Muriel Bowser

Bowser Promotes Plan to Pair People Leaving Prison With Mentors

Mayor Muriel Bowser

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was out Thursday promoting her new proposed budget.

Bowser wants to pour millions of dollars into public safety, including more police, but Bowser says she also wants to spend money on preventing crime. From the rising murder rate, to carjackings, crime is one of the top issues for D.C. residents as Bowser is running for a third term in office.

On Thursday, Bowser visited a construction site to highlight a $1.7 million program she's proposing. It would hire life coaches for D.C. residents who are returning home after serving time in prison. That would include people like Denzel Grandson, now a worker at that construction site. Grandson was just released in January after seven years in prison. He’s enrolled in a similar program called Peer Navigators.

"Oh, it's really awesome," Grandson said. "This program is actually good; my peer navigator helped me actually find employment through the solution group."

The coaches will be people from the same neighborhood who have the same experiences, like Michael Jackson, a peer navigator who helped Grandson get his job.

"It means a lot for me to be able to help someone," Jackson said. "I been incarcerated myself before, so I know what it's like for a person to come home and want to be successful with their re-entry and get jobs."

The two men stood with Bowser on Thursday as she highlighted her proposal to increase D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation funding to provide more opportunities for young people to get off the streets.

"Unfortunately, we've seen young people involved in serious crimes with guns," Bowser said. "But part of our emphasis here is on making sure there are things for young people to do around positive adults. That's what these recreation programs are about."

Bowser is also proposing $30 million for more police officers, hoping to increase the ranks from the current 3,580 to 4,000 officers.

The mayor acknowledged that the D.C. police department loses about 300 officers each year to retirement and moving to other jobs. She said the department can only hire about 350 officers each year, so she’s hoping to encourage officers to stay on the force longer.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Mayor Bowser was proposing $300 million for more police officers. That was incorrect. The correct amount is $30 million.

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