STOCKTON, CA - Fifteen young men, well-known to police for their criminal pasts, were "called in" Thursday night for a discussion.
The meeting happened at Stockton's Civic Auditorium is the first major element of the Marshall Plan to be put to use. Ceasefire has been tried successfully before in Stockton in the late 90s; it involves presenting to men on parole and probation their options.
The meeting featured speakers who talked about help available to them and punishments they face. The help side included church leaders, job assistance, gang outreach workers, and prison transition experts. The prosecution side included the District Attorney's office, the U.S. Attorney's office, Probation and Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.
The men were told they can take advantage of job and education programs in place; if they don't change, they can risk aggressive prosecution for their crimes.
"The message is, 'take the help now, get on board now, or later with federal prosecution and maximum sentencing,'" Stockton Peacekeepers' Jose Gomez said.
"They were respected, not sermonized, or threatened," Destiny Christian Center's Curtis Smith said. "They were told out of concern and care, 'we want you to take this role and we have help.'"
Six men invited to the session didn't show. Jones said Ceasefire call in's are expected to happen every few months.
"For them to make the choice and come in and hear a message from law enforcement, very firm but also very caring, we feel it was successful," Jones said.
By Tim Daly, email@example.com