Family Focus: Video shares teenage inmates' stories to help other teens

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Charlotte has a new strategy to combat crimes committed by kids.

This school year, the Gang of One program will take a video into the classrooms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The young men hope sharing their stories will save other teens. The video is part of a new strategy to curb youth crime in Charlotte.

 “Their reality check about violence and criminality came a little too late,” said the Rev. Fran Cook with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Gang of One.

Cook said the inmates profiled are from the local area and the documentary will be shown in local classrooms.

 “We hope CMS will work with us in particular to identify priority schools and young people to get this message to,” Cook said.

Victims’ families shared their story on the other side of violence. Andrea Long’s two sons were murdered on the same night.

“It really helps me to know that Josh and Terry didn't die in vain,” Long said.

Long said she spoke out to try and spare others the same pain.

 “We did want to reach out to teens and let them know that gun violence in Charlotte is real and it's happening too frequently,” Long said.

For this project, retired Detective Gary McFadden interviewed the young men in prison.

“I asked him what really was missing, and he said the negative in the community was more consistent than the positive,” McFadden said.

The end result is a video that organizers hope will encourage children to choose positive outlets over gangs.

The video is a joint project by CMPD Gang of One, CMS, Carolinas Healthcare System and the U.S. attorney’s office. It was paid for with grant money from the governor's crime commission.

For more information about this program, click here.