First-of-its-kind program helps gang-affiliated teens break free in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Davidson County Juvenile Court launched a first-of-its kind program to help gang-affiliated teens break free of a life of crime.

It’s called the Gang Resistance Intervention Program, or GRIP, and it includes probation, compliance with school attendance, court-mandated mentoring, and other requirements.

The program was created by the combined efforts of the Davidson County Juvenile Court, Metro police’s gang unit, and support from local clergy.

“We wanted to do something to help the high-risk kids and the gang involvement that was going on within the city,” said Kelly Gray, supervisor of the Davidson County Juvenile court gang unit. “You have got a drug court and all these other courts that are represented. We have the drug court, the recovery court and now the infant court here, but there was nothing to combat this issue that we were having.”

Juvenile Court Magistrate Carlton Lewis oversees the cases in the gang court and GRIP.

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The Bridge

Kathryn Sinback, Juvenile Court

Project Description

The Davidson County Juvenile Court currently receives approximately 3,300 children in the Juvenile Detention Center annually who are not legally eligible to be detained in a secure detention facility because they were arrested for status offenses such as runaway, curfew violations, and unruly offenses, or for low-level delinquent offenses. Because we do not currently have an alternative method to process children who were lawfully arrested but not detainable, these children typically end up staying in the secure Intake area of the Juvenile Detention facility for up to 24 hours. During this 24 hour period, the only service provided to the child in most instances is locating their parent or guardian and contacting the Department of Children’s Services if the parent or guardian is unwilling or unable to pick the child up from detention. Many of these children have experienced significant trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences, and are in need of immediate assessment, care, and intervention. Research shows that detaining children unnecessarily in a secure detention facility can increase the risk of future delinquency and recidivism . See “The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and other Secure Facilities,” Justice Policy Institute Report (2006), attached.

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Hume-Fogg teens take up youth violence in Nashville

A group of teens are planning to take a more active approach to defeat violence among African-American youths in Nashville.

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School students hosted a panel with Nashville community leaders at the Grand Masonic Lodge of Tennessee Thursday evening.

“It’s a call to action panel to see, one, what they think about what’s going on, and two, what is it that we need to do to fix the problem?” said Aniya Milford, a Hume-Fogg senior and president of Black Americans United. “It’s basically to get everything put on the table so that everybody has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.”

Black Americans United is the club that sponsored the event featuring Metro police Chief Steve Anderson, Councilman Freddie O’Connell, Metro schools Director Shawn Joseph, and juvenile court Judge Sheila Calloway.

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Students Hold Panel On African American Teen Criminalization

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro Public School students and city leaders met Thursday night to discuss violence happening in the African American youth community.

Students from Hume-Fogg Academic put on the panel discussion. Junior Taylor Gentry, 16, lives in North Nashville. Gentry said her friends are tired of seeing shootings happen within the young black community. She said she sees some of the violence like suspensions and expulsions in her community are generated from social media activities.

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Community Leaders Tackle Trend Of Teens Committing Violent Crimes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For nearly two decades Juvenile Magistrate Judge Carlton Lewis has sat on a bench at the Juvenile Justice Center. “Whenever somebody gets to this court every other agency, every other program in the community has probably failed.”

The four teens recently charged with criminal homicide may end up in his court room. “Obviously it scares me, the idea of anyone being involved in any kind of violent offense,” Lewis said.

Anthony Sinor, Mithcell Mann, Byron Berkley and Terrence Rainey are all 16-years-old, and they’re all charged with criminal homicide since mid-January. While some may think it’s gang related, officers believe otherwise.

“The kids involved in these shootings are not confirmed gang members and nor do we feel like it’s any type of gang initiation,” said Officer Kelly Gray.

Gray serves as supervisor for the Gang and High Risk Unit, she said many of the kids coming into court now don’t have any previous court involvement. “This is new for us,” she said.

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Nashville’s juvenile court plans new program to cut down on youth violence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – January has been a violent month in Nashville for juveniles. Four teenagers were charged with homicide compared to none charged during the same period last year.

The latest are Terrence Rainey and Byron Berkley, both 16, who are accused in the murder of Javonte Robinson, 18, and critically injuring Roy Hunter, 20, during a robbery at a Madison apartment complex last Saturday.

According to the Davidson County Juvenile Court administrator, in January 2016, eight juveniles were charged with aggravated assault and four teens were charged with aggravated robbery. No juveniles were charged with especially aggravated robbery or homicide.

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Nashville Children And Teen Homicide Rate Decreases

It’s the most homicides Nashville has seen in more than a decade. 84 people were killed in Music City in 2016, compared to 79 criminal homicides in 2015.

It’s an unfortunate trend that seems to be sweeping many major cities in the country. The number of homicides on the rise, and families left to deal with the loss of their loved one.

12 of last year’s 84 homicide victims were teenagers or younger. That number is down, and that’s something the city is happy about. Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson is crediting the decrease to the Youth Violence Reduction Initiative, led by Mayor Megan Barry, and the work that followed.

Though the number of youth homicides are down, some could argue it’s not low enough.

Like Courtney Hambrick, a heartbroken mother who talked with NewsChannel 5 over the holidays after losing her son Ricky Hambrick, 16.

A bright 11th grader at Whites Creek High School gunned down and left to bleed out in a driveway.

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6 notable Middle Tennesseans of 2016

Many notable people made a difference in Middle Tennessee and across the state in 2016.

The Tennessean Editorial Board made its selection for Tennesseans of the Year based upon an evaluation of the news of the past year and the impact the person or people had on the community.

That is how editorial board members came up with the decision to honor Dolly Parton and the heroes and survivors of the Sevier County wildfire in their efforts to rebuild and recover.

Thank you to the many readers who submitted nominations. These were very helpful as they aided us in identifying an array of worthy people in their own right.

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