United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) of Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, is a non-profit dedicated to stopping gang violence for over 20 years. They are doing some amazing work with young prisoners that are largely from gangs. As they are released from prison UTEC shows up to help them and their families much to their surprise. UTEC’s programs are worthy of being modeled all across the globe because their success rate is phenomenal.
They’ve cut recidivism the normal rates from 52% down to 15% with the young adults they’ve been working with. At the core of their approach are the simple principles of showing these young people that they care, working together with them to help them put their lives together and feel good about themselves, supporting them with basics as needed, providing employment and education to open more doors down the road, and generous amounts of compassion, forgiveness, friendship and love. As a result of this approach they’re transforming violence into peace. Criminal justice reform like this is a critical part of creating a peaceful world because incarceration is both caused by and contributes to poverty and homelessness, all of which leads to violent crime and ways of life in the streets.