Ex-Con Working with Youth to Prevent Gang Violence

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RICHMOND (WRIC)—Some police departments are concerned about the growing number of gangs in Central Virginia.

An ex-con is trying to prevent gang violence before it happens, but he says the community has a responsibility, too.

For more than 20 years, Ervin Hart was in and out of jail.

“I had a possession of cocaine … possession of heroin with intent to distribute,” he said.

When Hart finally broke that cycle, he started counseling gang members. His latest job is at the Richmond City Jail.

“I was told by one of my sponsors, 'You need to take the same motivation you used to live in the street and take something and do something positive with [it].' So, I came out and washed cars.”

That's the same advice Hart gives, hoping that when gang members leave jail, they won't return to a life of crime.

“That's what gangs feed off of: violence and fear,” he said.

Four of the six people connected to Waynesboro reserve police captain Kevin Quick's death were gang members. Police in Albemarle County say gangs have gotten bigger in that area.

ABC 8 News checked with Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Petersburg police, who didn't have an exact number of gangs in our area.

But Hart says it's not always up to police, the community has a responsibility, too.

“Either you're part of the problem, or you are part of the solution. The problem is you're allowing things that go on in your neighborhood, but you want to sit back and complain,” he said.

 

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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