Amid the years of very good statistics telling us crime is on the retreat from our city streets, juvenile crime has been the exception. We are now a city where 85 percent of all children that come through the criminal justice system have already been there before.
In short, recidivism has been the root of our juvenile crime problem in Nashville.
Thankfully, there are programs working in concert with the local court system to catch young offenders and attempt to set them on a better path.
Positive Beginnings accepts about 40 children each year on the recommendation of Juvenile Court Judge Betty Adams Green, and the program is run through the YMCA.
“These are kids who are headed down the wrong path and they’re basically at their final chance to get things right before they have the potential of doing quite a bit of time in the system,” said program director Henry Smith said.
The camp probably does not seem altogether positive to participants during the first few days, with elements of actual boot camp incorporated in to the programming. The results have astonished, with only 14 percent of Positive Beginnings graduates getting in trouble with the law again as opposed to the citywide average of 85 percent.
These children, often on their first or second minor offense, are the classic example of where the breakdown of the family unit, failures in our schools and police all intertwine. Fortunately, there is a program that can bring them back from that brink and help them become productive citizens.
Green and her volunteers have done wonders with this program. It is something state government should try to emulate in troubled communities across Tennessee as it gets real results.