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‘I’m really scared for my grandson’: Grandmother desperate for intervention as Council discusses curbing juvenile crime

She doesn’t know where to turn for help with her at-risk grandson
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - NOPD identified a second suspect in the violent carjacking at Costco and they say he’s a pre-teen.

The first suspect, Tyrese Harris, 18, had a long history within the juvenile justice system and was also recently charged with the murder of a 12-year-old boy.

As juveniles, many repeat offenders like Harris, make headlines, the fear grows for some parents and grandparents.

“I’m a concerned grandmother and I’m really scared for my grandson, he’s going to be turning 12 and they start out younger than 12 and I see these behaviors and he really frightens me,” said a Grandmother that wishes to remain anonymous.

This Grandmother reached out to us. Her Grandson has been getting into trouble at school, cursing and telling her he wants to join a gang.

“He’s very smart, but he wants to fit in, you know? Now, I’m afraid that he can fit in with the wrong crowd,” she said.

She feels like she has nowhere else to go, calling every number she can find. Her daughter is a single mother with a full-time job and other children to care for.

“So much crime is being done by our young children and that’s because they don’t have no one there for them. They don’t have no programs they can get in. They don’t have the ‘Big Brother’ stuff no more and some mothers have to work,” she said.

Many residents and leaders have been asking, what is available for the kids and how effective are those programs?

“We need transparency, we metrics because if we’re going to resource kids, we to do it in a way that actually we can defend because right now I feel like the programs we have aren’t very defensible,” Councilmember JP Morrell said during a Government Oversight Committee meeting, Thursday.

RELATED COVERAGE:

Federal authorities poised to take Tyrese Harris prosecution away from Orleans DA

Teen suspect in brutal Costco carjacking recently booked with armed robbery count that DA’s office refused to prosecute

Husband pleads for violent crime solutions after wife’s brutal carjacking at Costco

Bond set at over $2.75 million for teen accused of murder, carjacking

The Committee feels the programs are underfunded and the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Family Services isn’t directing the $38 million (that comes from local, state, and federal funds) the right way.

“I think we need to really build upon that foundation that’s been laid and continue to move the needle for young people. We do not need at all to wipe the slate clean, Emily Wolff, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Family Services said.

Wolff agrees there needs to be more funding, but says with their master plan, the recidivism rate is less than 15-percent between the work readiness programs and the Evening Reporting Center.

Reverend Pat Watson, who runs the Evening Reporting Center says there are other major issues they are fighting against here with 90-percent of the parents she deals with below the poverty level.

“Many of them just don’t have a chance to get out of that cycle of criminality. Many of their moms are in jail. Their dads are dead. It’s just a generational cycle generational patterns of poverty,” Watson said. “When are we going to address the poverty issue?”

Wolff says there were more than 400 kids arrested in 2021.

Prevention is necessary, but somebody has to work with those kids who are out here, committing the crimes,” Watson said. “What do we do? Do we overlook them?”

But this grandmother wants an intervention before her grandson becomes another statistic.

“Please, I’m pleading out to the public. I’m pleading to the D.A., the Mayor, the Governor, everybody that’s in his high offices. I’m pleading to y’all for some help,” she said.

Wolff says there are some preventative services in place, but the pandemic has affected many avenues meant to help children before they go down the wrong path because school has been so disrupted and the structure it can provide, but her office is making that a priority this year.

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