Youth group helps keep kids out of prison

Youth meeting on Salina Street

With so many people to influence you and so many negative options available every single day, life on the streets of Syracuse can be hard.

Terris Murry has seen a lot of crime in his time living in the Syracuse area. "I've been through some scary situations. I've been shot at over 5 times, stuff like that, but that's normal to dudes my age." says Murry.

At 20 years old, he still has yet to graduate from high school and admits life is a daily struggle for him being around crime much of his adult life.

That's why he joined more than a dozen other at risk minority youth on Salina Street to talk about the realities of a life behind bars with A Good Life Foundation.

"Me being here, it's me staying out of trouble for a few hours, like this is something positive," says Murry.

It's part of a movement across the country called, "National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth." Other organizations are holding protests or rallies, but here in Syracuse this advocacy group is teaching these kids how they can avoid going into the criminal justice system. They are focusing this on minority youth, because they say they have higher percentage of incarceration and typically lack accurate education about the prison system.

Asean Bey is bringing his experiences from his time in a gang in New York City for 10 years, speaking to these kids in Syracuse. "Basically what we're trying to do is show them that there's a different world out there other than the 4 block radius that they know," says Bey.

This group is teaching these kids about how prisons are publically traded on the stock market and how they want to keep their occupancy levels high. In addition, they are talking about why money management is important. They say this critical tool to avoid prison is one which minorities are typically uneducated on, as well.

Hasan Stephens is the Executive Director of A Good Life Foundation. "If you're coming from a background of poverty, you're trying to pay bills, you're trying to eat, you're trying to survive. You can't think about investing, you can't think about putting money away, because you don't have enough money for the here and now," says Stephens.

A Good Life Foundation says issues like single parent homes and a lack of positive role models can result in no one for these kids to look up to. This organization is showing some of Syracuse's youth that someone cares about them and believes in them.

Seneca Wilson is a youth activist, singing poetry for these kids to get his message across. "We all have to take care of each other, you can't only think about yourself. There are so many kids out there that need somebody to look up to," says Wilson.

Murry hopes conversations like these pay off for the future so he can improve his life and earn a GED.

"I believe that it's possible for change, but it's a faith thing. You know what I'm saying it's faith. We can't just see it for the now, we have to see it for tomorrow or for a year to come," says Murry.

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