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Violence intervention program to grow with American Rescue Plan Act funds

To curb retaliation shootings, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is poised to expand the city’s violence intervention program set in place more than a decade ago. 

Strickland recently spoke about the program’s success as part of a July 13 “workforce summit” hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris during a visit to the White House, along with mayors from Houston and Milwaukee.

The focused deterrence program began under Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. That program works to identify people with criminal records and brings them before a group of people who live in the same communities, which confronts the offenders about their criminal past and then offers counseling and financial help like a job or job training. 

The priority will be those at risk of being the next offender or victim in the cycle of violence. An attempt is made to schedule a meeting at a safe place. Often, this is a family member’s house. Police officers and service workers generally are in attendance. 

Funding for the expansion will come from American Rescue Plan Act.

In addition to expanding intervention programs, broadening the city’s workforce development plans are another ARPA priority for Strickland.

Workforce opportunities already in place include the Opportunity Youth program. Aimed at 16 to 24 year olds, it covers the cost of technical training for those not in school or employed. 

Strickland has said several graduates have completed their technical training and are now employed in the healthcare industry.

The mayor was chosen to be a part of the summit because of the way Memphis chose to spend its $161 million share of ARPA funding. 

Like other cities and locations across the country, it has until the end of 2024 to empty the wallet.

Strickland, meanwhile, has said he will try to find ways to keep programs, if they are successful, going after funding runs dry.

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