SELMA, Ala. — A district attorney in Alabama is urging local churches to “adopt a gang member”—to take them under their wing and mentor them—to help curb gang violence in the area.
“Most of the country has gang issues. This is an idea that just came to me one night and I feel like this would really be successful here in Selma and Dallas County. I wanted to get it started here so it can spread,” Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson recently told a gathering of pastors at the Selma Convention Center.
Jackson would like to see gang members be more involved with local churches so that they can feel that their lives are spent performing valuable work and won’t resort to mischief on the streets.
“To make them feel positive about themselves,” he explained. “What we’re trying to do is develop a conscience for some of these young folks. They’re out here killing, and robbing and raping, and they don’t even blink an eye.”
Jackson told reporters that violence in Selma was so prevalent in 2015 that the number of shootings began to be measured on a weekly basis, rather than per year.
“A year ago, we were named the eighth most dangerous city in the country,” he lamented.
“We have shootings all the time. A lot of it is retaliation,” Jackson outlined. “If they’re angry about something, they go seek revenge. We have a bunch of drive-by shootings. They’re shooting up houses, and they don’t care if the person they’re angry at is even in there. They’ll shoot at their families. Sometimes they’re hitting up the wrong houses. And we’ve got a lot of guns on the street.”
Therefore, he asked the approximately 50 pastors who were present to identify church members who are involved in gangs, to mentor them, and to involve them in the activities of the church, such as the choir or other programs.
“I think it will help. I think there’s more dialogue that needs to be done concerning it, but I think it’s a great idea. We have problems in Selma and I think it’s going to take a plethora of ideas and people working together in order to combat crime and gangs in our city,” John Grayson, pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church in Selma tol WSFA-TV.
As previously reported, earlier this month, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin also urged pastors to form walking prayer groups in Louisville’s high-crime areas to help combat the blot of violence within the municipality. According to reports, there have been 52 homicide investigations in Louisville so far this year, including a recent incident that claimed the life of a seven-year-old boy.
“I personally believe in the power of prayer. I’ve seen it,” Bevin, a Southern Baptist, stated.
He asked that pastors and members of their congregations join together for one year to walk a block weekly, praying as they go and reaching out their neighbors.
“You don’t need permission from me how to do it. You know, you walk to a corner, pray for the people, talk to people along the way,” he explained.
Bevin and his wife plan on participating in the prayer walk themselves.