Authorities in Prince George's County, Md., adjoining Washington, D.C.,are appealing directly to convicts — a crime-fighting tactic catching on in police departments nationwide — to help stem violence in what has been an unusually deadly year, the Washington Post reports. Since Jan. 1, 56 people have been slain in the county, a dozen more than at the same time last year. The killings have stemmed from drug robberies, nightclub disputes, and even mistaken identity. Many of the alleged killers and the victims had prior criminal records.
In hopes of heading off a spike in crime that typically comes in the hot summer months, police and prosecutors met face-to-face with offenders who live in five violent neighborhoods. Authorities threatened the convicts with the prospect of jail time, but also offered them job-training and counseling services. They urged them to help keep their own neighborhoods safe. Experts said the tactic, sometimes known as call-ins, works because a small group of people, often on parole and probation, are responsible for many violent crimes. Send the message to those people — authorities want to help you, but will not be lenient if you re-offend — and they will usually listen, said criminologist David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.