USAToday: Ex-cons step in to mediate conflict, prevent gun violence in Baltimore

BALTIMORE – Two men scuffle on the ground one cool morning on the main strip of McElderry Park, near downtown Baltimore. A large man bursts from a storefront and separates the brawlers.

“That’s one of those Safe Streets dudes,” an onlooker says.

The big man is Dante Barksdale, an outreach worker for Safe Streets, a program that enlists former convicts to battle neighborhood violence. Safe Streets and similar programs are winning plaudits from police, mayors and the Justice Department.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Healthsays the Baltimore program gets some of the credit for a 56% reduction in homicides in the Cherry Hillneighborhood from January 2009 through December 2010.

The programs are modeled after one in Chicago called CeaseFire.

It works, supporters say, because… READ THE FULL POST AT: usatoday.com

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