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Chicago Community Groups Provide 'Intensive' Support Programs To Steer Teens From Crime

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We're taking a closer look at what can be done to curb carjacking.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports from Portage Park. Two groups insist tough law enforcement alone cannot stop it.

They offer two other tactics to reach young people: Counseling and mentoring. And groups insist it has to happen over the long haul.

The Dovetail Project is the nonprofit founded 12 years ago by Sheldon Smith to support families, especially young fathers. They handed out backpacks full of school supplies in Jackson Park.

Amid Chicago's carjacking crisis, Smith talked about a 19-year-old arrested for carjacking, referred to the Dovetail Project by his probation officer.

"This young man started the program, completed the program," Smith said. "We referred him to one of construction companies to get him employment. He's currently working now."

For more than a decade, Smith has mentored 500 young men. Counseling and life coaching for a year. The 19-year-old has months to go.

"Our young men need one year of support, intensive support, to continue to climb that latter and become successful," Smith said.

"Sometimes their behavior and choices don't always align with what needs they're trying to satisfy."

Julie Noobler of Children's Home and Aid part of the collaboration Choose 2 Change, works with 300 young people from 13 to 18.

The carjacking surge, she said, reflects underinvested communities and trauma.

"Most of the youth (that) Choose 2 Change works with comes feeling like they have no options, they have no good choices and when you don't have any choices, you just make choices," Noobler said.

And so they work in group and individual sessions.

Noobler said among the young people Choose 2 Change serves, the reduction in crime has been dramatic.

"Forty-eight percent of fewer violent crime arrests 43% arrest of any kind. Among that group."

Choose 2 Change has worked with 600 young people, ages 13 to 18, over the last five years, tailoring a program for each one.


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