Crime and Violence

The streets call our youth 24 hours a day… When parents are not there, the streets are… When jobs are not there, the streets are… When opportunity is not there, the streets are.

There is not a single home in Erie County which has not felt the effects of violence, incarceration, and recidivism. Whether you have lost a loved one to violence, prison, or your hard earned tax dollars fund the $36,000.00 per inmate per year at the county prison and the $50,000.00 at a state facility. We all suffer and pay the price of violence. Operation Jumpstart, a boot camp based construction pre-apprenticeship that Brent has implemented in partnership with Climate Changers, Inc. Total Change Program is currently the only program operating to rehabilitate incarcerated individuals prior to release and during transition from within The Erie County Correctional Facility. This program costs pennies on the dollar when compared to one year of incarceration. With an average of 600 plus inmates incarcerated at the county level at any one time, equating to $62,465.75 per day and roughly $102 per inmate, per day cost to tax payers. As your next Erie County Executive, I will work with our local judicial officials to employ alternative sentencing which reduces the costs to the tax payers and enact work programs which productively occupy incarcerated citizens (with non-violent offenses and do not pose a flight risk) to provide services within our community to combat blight, aid in cleaning up our County, and learning transferrable work skills during incarceration.

This important category which is imperative for the growth of our community has many angles and will cover several of these with the following:

Regarding our current county prison system, my administration will work with judicial officials and Erie County Prison staff to implement an intense “boot camp style” program which focuses on 16-28 year old violent offenders to instill discipline, pride, teamwork, and other core values. This program will encompass an in-depth behavioral modification therapy, course work, and physical exercise to challenge and empower our young adult offenders to achieve more in life through hard work, education, and understanding how their behaviors affect their lives, their family, and our community.

It is my goal to have all non-violent, non-flight risk offenders completing a sentence within the Erie County Prison to be productively occupied six days per week.  Each individual will be required to participate in work programs such as community service/outreach, educational programs, and learning life and occupational skills which are necessary for being a productive and law abiding citizen within society. Additionally, our region is plagued with crime and blight, there is no reason we cannot utilize a county wide land bank to acquire blighted properties and utilize our inmate population to clean and rehabilitate our parks, repair/dismantle abandoned homes and structures, and contribute to other community initiatives while teaching transferable skills which will benefit the citizen upon release from incarceration.

Secondly, to address rising violent crime we will pursue a similar neighborhood violence prevention project which is currently being adopted by the state of New York and includes the following:

Implementation of a coordinated, community-based strategy for reducing violence in a specified neighborhood or neighborhoods. These proposals will target communities with high rates of gun violence and work through community-based organizations, residents and other individuals who are well positioned to work with high-risk youth and young adults in those areas.  Examples of these individuals include our Blue Coats, Churches, other non-profit organizations.

We will implement street outreach initiatives. These efforts will function within a cooperative relationship with other agencies, including probation, law enforcement, social services, and schools. This initiative is a grass roots and hands-on approach. Those who will be functioning in this capacity will not be office-based, institutional or even school-based, and will occur primarily in the targeted neighborhoods, at the street level and home.

Additionally, we will utilize a multi-pronged approach to prevent shootings involving youth and young adults. This method relies on the use of culturally appropriate individuals who respond to violent acts and shootings to prevent retaliation as well as detect and resolve conflicts which are likely to lead to further shootings. These people will develop relationships with high risk individuals who are likely to engage in gun violence and link them with resources such as education and job training. These efforts will include collaboration with neighborhood organizations and other community groups to organize neighborhood events and public education activities which promote a no-shooting message. The strategy aims to change behaviors, attitudes, and social norms directly related to gun violence.

Further avenues to pursue include alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes; work with local judicial officials to reduce Erie County Prison population and provide alternative sentencing opportunities which promote community service, educational prospects, increasing an offender’s community investment/community impact, and reducing the financial and physical burdens placed upon our County prison system. This approach will educate and expose offenders to alternate pathways outside of their area of exposure and ultimately save the tax payers millions of dollars. This program can be found at criminaljustice.ny.gov