D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new initiative to steer residents away from violent crime and provide a safe path forward.
The program People of Promise identified as many as 200 people who are most at risk of committing or being victimized by violent crime.
D.C. native Paul Winestock spent 23 years locked up in a federal penitentiary and knows how difficult it is to get a good clean start after the time is served.
“Well, what I did is I started from inside, got a plan and a goal and a focus on what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to do was be part of the solution and not part of the problem no more, and what I did is I started a nonprofit organization,” he said.
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With the help of the D.C. government, Winestock opened a restaurant that employs people who have previously been incarcerated.
Through his nonprofit Saving Our Next Generation, Winestock also manages a clean streets team staffed by people who have previously been in trouble with the law, including Dezaz Washington.
“If I didn’t have this, I honestly don’t know where I would be,” she said. “I actually have an apartment now.”
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Bowser said a small number of people are responsible for a significant amount of violence in the city. By targeting them with the People of Promise program, she hopes it will make the city safer.
The mayor has asked her cabinet to step up.
“I have assigned members of my cabinet to work directly with teams to make sure that the people we’re working with are getting the services that their situations demand,” she said.
The mayor’s plan also includes the hiring of 20 life coaches who will assist in breaking the cycle of violence, poverty and incarceration.
The mayor’s effort includes $80 million on non-police interventions: programs for citizens returning from prison to keep them out of trouble and give them a leg up.