A second chance, with a consequence – giving back to your community


Photo by: NPR NOLA Policemen looking for crime in Downtown New Orleans

The quote “everyone deserves a second chance” is a lie. This quote can be directed toward everyone in the world. However, it more directly impacts Black men in New Orleans. New Orleans suffers a higher homicide rate than Chicago, which is also known for having a high crime rate (Adler). White-on-black violence in New Orleans has been an issue for the last 10 years. In the late 70s and early 80s, Lowry researched and found 56 New Orleans policemen, who often saw themselves as defenders of the region’s racial hierarchy, committed one-third of these white-on-black homicides, which was double the Chicago figure. In fact, when New Orleans law enforcers employed lethal force, 71.4 percent of their victims were African Americans, even though African Americans composed only a quarter of the local population” (Lowry, 1988).

 With black individuals statistically more at risk of death, I do not believe that those responsible deserve a second chance – or at least a second chance without consequence. With laws intentionally in place since the early 1960s (Civil Rights Act) regarding segregation and discrimination, the high rate of murders based on the color of someone’s skin makes this hate crime even more horrible. Looking 10 years ahead, today, Black men are now being killed by white and black men.

White men are not being punished, and they are given a second chance. If criminals were given a second chance, they should be required to do a deed, such as community service, to prove their remorse. The reason it is an issue in New Orleans is because New Orleans is now the murder capital in the United States, according to Adam Fabes from Fox News. Fabes explained there was a 100% increase in shootings in the last year, which is the main cause of the high homicide rates.

Photo by: PBS
Teens protesting against gun violence toward black teens in New Orleans

With New Orleans being the murder capital, Black men are a huge part of that statistic. However, the statistic of killing being from white men is decreasing. Black men are starting to target each other. Because there are more Black men in New Orleans, black men are being killed more often than white men. Black men actually experience more anxiety and depression symptoms due to the discrimination happening on a daily basis in the United States. Angelitta Britt-Spells reported a significant positive relationship between discrimination and depressive symptomatology among Black men (Britt-Spells et al. 2016). Britt-Spells study provides evidence that the mental health of Black men living in the United States is negatively affected by exposure to discrimination. Due to this research, Black men living in the United States alter their thinking and live in fear because of the daily discrimination. Being fearful of what will happen due to discrimination leads to men carrying weapons to protect themselves. This is part of the reason why Black men are being killed, and we have the most murders in the country. 

With the violence in New Orleans continually growing, it is known for having high incarceration rates compared to other states. According to The National Registry of Incarcerations, New Orleans had the highest rate of wrongful convictions in the year 2015. Due to this statistic, there were a lot of individuals incarcerated, leaving jails full and having no room for more criminals. New Orleans then battled mass incarceration and received backlash because crime rates increased throughout the city. This is leaving residents scared and fearful to even walk down the street.

Before moving forward, I would like to discuss why murder is an issue. In New Orleans and across the world, murder is illegal because it’s taking someone’s life into your own hands and ending it. It’s morally wrong, and a senseless thing to do that has lasting impacts on everyone. Murders and related instances are often situational and are the result of violence and impulsive decisions. As we all know, in recent years, there has been more publicity and attention towards murders that are racially motivated and white supremacy. Racial profiling and discrimination are not new to the 21st century. However, the consequences and repercussions as a result are in desperate need of change. This leads me to my next point: the consequences of committing murder and how it can be turned around to help others.


Photo by: NOLA.com Murder capital of the country statistics

These statistics show that murder and senseless crimes are far too common in New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans was recently declared the murder capital of the entire country, which makes it clear something needs to change. It’s irresponsible and unproductive to simply incarcerate these criminals without a chance to improve themselves and their community. A solution to the many murder crimes in the New Orleans area is punishing the criminals and then requiring them to give back to the community. All of their work goes toward helping young Black people in their communities, whether it is bringing food to their neighbors or planning sports tournaments for children. If criminals who have committed these crimes were required to make a difference with an organization such as this one, this could be their second chance.

The solution of requiring criminals to participate in an organization like GoodKids MadCity is an effort to teach them about giving back. This solution could get them back out into the community (with restrictions) and help relieve taxpayers’ funds that typically go towards this type of development. Incarcerated Black men will help give back to the community and teach young Black men how to avoid being in their position. The prisoners can also tell their stories about what they wish they could have done. GoodKid MadCity (GKMS) is a safe space for those directly impacted by crime and discrimination. The organization includes youth engagement, community projects, and workforce development opportunities. 

Kim Bellware from TeenVogue magazine wrote an article on GKMC’s success since it was developed in 2018. GKMC works to provide support to youth in communities affected by shootings while pushing for policies that address gun violence. More importantly, this organization strives to help young people feel free and safe and hopefully help them reach their goals. According to Kim Bellware, since GKMC was created, there has been much success in supporting those who have been affected by gun violence.  Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton from Chicago, IL, has sat in GKMC meetings more than once. Instead of GKMC focusing on changing gun laws, they put their energy toward how gun violence happens and how we can change it. The organization also supports youth going through depression, anxiety, and paranoia after experiencing violence. GKMC is a beneficial organization for youth experiencing trauma from gun violence, which sadly is a big population in our country today.

As a local to the New Orleans community, I see a desperate need for improvement in multiple areas. For example, this city is filled with litter and has terrible road conditions. As a way to give criminals a second chance at life with consequences, my suggestion would be to have these individuals work to improve our community. Incarcerated prisoners could help clean up the city and assist with roadwork development to improve this community’s conditions. I think that these prisoners could work towards cleaning up the streets making it safer for the community.


According to The Center Square, New Hampshire is a state in the United States that has the lowest homicide rates. What are they doing that New Orleans could be doing differently? One, New Hampshire is not as populated as Louisiana, and the landscape is different. However, it is important to consider in what ways New Orleans can change their high statistic of homicides. Residents in Chicago, IL, created GKMC. What can New Orleans create to help youth experiencing the same thing? 

Son of a Saint is an organization in New Orleans for boys who are growing up without fathers. Son of a Saint equips boys with the tools they need to become productive men. They have expectations for the boys once they are in the program and have volunteers throughout each week. One thing the organization does not have is volunteers who are serving a sentence in jail. This would be a challenge to propose because the organization is specifically for boys, and we do not want the youth to feel unsafe. To create this program, NOPD would need to be involved to ensure the safety of children. The prisoners will also need to be trained on what the program is about and what we are encouraging the boys to learn. 

Integrating the GKMC program into Son of Saint in New Orleans would take time and planning. First, create a proposal and show the Son of a Saint organization. The proposal would include educational purposes, workshops, and health goals. Educational purposes will be the prisoners talking about their experiences, how they grew up, what happened, and what to avoid. Prisoners can also speak on how patriarchy may have influenced their decisions in their lives. Men are taught not to show emotion and to be tough. The prisoners can teach boys that it is okay to share emotions. They can be tough, but do not let that influence decisions they will regret. The workshops can include the youth boys asking prisoners questions. Also giving the prisoners the opportunity to build a connection when appropriate. For example, in some cases, the prisoners grow up in a rough childhood, maybe fatherless like the boys in Son of a Saint. They can speak about what they got involved in to get into trouble and how to avoid these situations.

Photo by: River Beats New Orleans
Son of a Saint is being recognized for shaping the future of young boys in New Orleans.

Difficulties that would come up if this program was sent in place include having professional oversight of the prisoners while at Son of a Saint. Essentially, they are still in jail, paying for what they did but getting a second chance by benefiting their community. This can be seen as a problem because of certain stereotypes people have toward prisoners. The program would need to find a way to resolve this, such as having a certain number of officers traveling with them to the organization and staying there until it is over. Also, maybe having this program bi-weekly or monthly. That way, they do not need to leave jail as often. The program can also offer Zoom workshops for the boys to be in a safer environment. 

A solution such as this one could work by how it benefits the young men in the New Orleans area. Young men in Son of a Saint are being educated every day. They have existing programs such as mentoring, tutoring, and recreational activities. They are already successful and are making a difference to Black youth in New Orleans. Adding a program such as this can bring real-life stories to young men and educate them on what they can do to prevent getting into situations where their lives are at risk. Homicide rates are a serious problem for Black men in New Orleans. They do not deserve a second chance. However, they can have one with a consequence. They would have the opportunity to give back to the community, educate the youth about their own lives, and teach them how to avoid life-threatening situations.



Adler, Jeffrey S. “Murder, north and south: Violence in early-twentieth-century chicago and new orleans.” The Journal of Southern History 74.2 (2008): 297-324.

Bellware, Kim. “Meet the Young Activists Fighting Chicago’s Gun Violence With Lobbying and Group Hugs.” TeenVogue. 3 Sept 2019. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/good-kids-mad-city-chicago-gun-violence-activists

Britt-Spells, Angelitta M., et al. “Effects of perceived discrimination on depressive symptoms among Black men residing in the United States: A meta-analysis.” American journal of men’s health 12.1 (2018): 52-63.


Lowry, Philip W., et al. “Homicide victims in New Orleans: recent trends.” American journal of epidemiology 128.5 (1988): 1130-1136.

Sames, Adam. “New Orleans becomes murder capital of America, overtaking St. Louis.”  Fox News. 11 Sept. 2022. https://www.foxnews.com/us/new-orleans-becomes-murder-capital-america-overtaking-st-louis

Stebbins, Samuel. How the Murder Rate in New Hampshire Compares to the Rest of the Country.” The Center Square. 10 Dec 2021. https://www.thecentersquare.com/new_hampshire/how-the-murder-rate-in-new-hampshire-compares-to-the-rest-of-the-country/article_3aff03bf-fbe5-523b-bef4-9ff85f41c3be.html


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