Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: A chance to change - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: A chance to change

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(WMC-TV) - Some Mid-South juvenile offenders are taking up an offer to change their lives in hopes of breaking the cycle of crime in Memphis.

Memphian James Robinson is the executive director of Metamorphoses, Inc. - Greek for "change of shape."  The non-profit organization for juvenile offenders teaches anger management by writing it all down and talking about feelings as a group.

"It goes through a series of journals, such as anger management, coping skills, rational self-counseling, criminal lifestyle," said Robinson.

Robinson said a common thread among the kids in the group is their source of anger and the destruction it causes.

"Most of the time, it's from not having their father in the household," said Robinson.  "Most of the guys here don't know their father."

Shane, 16, has been in the program for four months.

"I had got into a fight with my friends, and I was just so mad, I went and broke somebody's window," said Shane.

Shane said Metamorphoses is helping him.

"I take time out to calm myself, walk away and think about what I'm going to do before I do it, see about the consequences before I do it," said Shane.

Warren, 17, struggles to stay out of juvenile detention.  He keeps getting locked up for fighting.

"It's hard," he said.

Warren said he wants to be part of Metamorphoses.

"Keep us on the right road," said Warren.  "Make sure we don't go in a dead end and crash out."

Robinson said 300 juvenile offenders have gone through the six-month program since 2008.  About 75 percent have not returned to juvenile court.

The group only meets once a week, and then the kids go back to their neighborhoods.

"A lot of them come from areas of town where there are drugs, alcohol, a lot of crime within their areas also," said Robinson.  "So it makes it kind of hard when you teach the skills here because their environment is infested with a lot of crime."

Robinson said he is committed to at least offering a chance to change, and said he will not give up.

"I have four boys," he said.  "When I see you, that's my motivation.  When I look at you, I see my sons."

To find out more about Metamorphoses, Inc., including their upcoming Basketball to Business summit featuring television Judge Greg Mathis, click here.

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