Steve Gruber Show: Josh Crawford, NEW Landmark Study on Reducing Crime

The Shelley Wynter Show Special guest Josh Crawford

Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

The Shelley Wynter Show Special guest Josh Crawford

Listen to the Shelley Wynter Show, September 18, 2023, for a thought-provoking and crucial discussion on the pressing issue of rising crime in our cities, public safety, and effective public policy solutions. We are thrilled to have our own Josh Crawford as a special guest, bringing his expertise and insights to the forefront. Josh Crawford is a renowned expert in criminal justice and public policy, and his expertise will shed light on the strategies we need to implement to address these critical concerns.

*Josh’s interview begins at 19:03. 

Lilly grant will bring the Parents First Initiative to Lawrenceville, enabling families to thrive

Lilly grant will bring the Parents First Initiative to Lawrenceville, enabling families to thrive

Georgia Center For Opportunity Press Release, current events, news, top stories

Lilly grant will bring the Parents First Initiative to Lawrenceville, enabling families to thrive

Lawrenceville, Ga. – Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded an endowment grant to Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church. The grant will enable the church to facilitate the Raising Highly Capable Kids parenting program — called the Parents First Initiative — across the Lawrenceville community.

The Parents First Initiative is a unique partnership designed to empower parents to equip their kids for life. By leveraging the Raising Highly Capable Kids program, the initiative will help parents develop the skills they need while building the meaningful relationships that weave a community together.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside Lawrenceville First United Methodist to make this curriculum available to more Georgia families,” said Joyce Mayberry, vice president of family at GCO. “The endowment will help this critical curriculum continue to thrive. Beyond resilient kids, we’re focused on building resilient communities. This grant will help us make a bigger difference in the lives of families across the state.”

“We need a village to raise kids today and we want to help build that village together,” said Rev. Dr. Adam Hilderbrandt of Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church. “Raising Highly Capable Kids’ 13-week course will give footings to build this village and the connections made will allow the village to grow from there.”

The Raising Highly Capable Kids program empowers adults to become stronger parents with healthier families. Its 13-week-long, evidence-based curriculum gives adults the tools and skills they need to confidently raise children who are caring, responsible, and healthy. 

Raising Highly Capable Kids is presented by the Georgia Center for Opportunity, in partnership with Rezilient Kids. It’s currently being offered to adults in communities across Georgia. 

The objective of Raising Highly Capable Kids is to help kids have healthier outcomes across all areas of their lives, including family life, academics, mental health, social wellbeing, and their eventual careers. By focusing on the family unit and the whole child, the program improves parent-child communication, strengthens bonds, and helps kids to avoid risky behaviors.

“We’re opening lines of communication between parents and students and improving academic outcomes,” Mayberry said. “And, we’re helping parents to see their strengths in parenting, equipping them with the right tools and resources to be successful.” 

The program also connects parents to one another, creating a stronger community as parents learn how to create healthier, more effective environments for their children. According to Mayberry, it’s critically important for parents to understand that they’re not alone, and they have support along the journey. 

One of the program’s most unique aspects is its focus on where parents excel in their roles as they raise their kids. 

“We’re here to support them and identify their strengths,” Mayberry said. 

According to Mayberry, this program isn’t just about improving parenting skills and kids’ outcomes in the here and now. It’s about facilitating change across entire communities and carrying those changes into the future for generations to come. 

“Through Raising Highly Capable Kids, we’re going to change the trajectory of families,” said Mayberry. “We’ll change the parents’ lives and the kids’ in turn. It’s all about generational transformation.” 

The bottom line is that communities need more programs like the Parents First Initiative. Raising Highly Capable Kids depends on community organizations, churches, and schools to get involved and help to facilitate its curriculum in local communities. From volunteer teachers to organizations that incentivize parents to complete their classes, there are many ways to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help with Raising Highly Capable Kids, we’re looking for leaders in: 

    • School environments who can provide parents in their communities with the tools they need to help their kids succeed in academics
    • Churches who are willing to offer courses locally
    • Nonprofit organizations who are willing to host local classes 

There is also an ongoing need for volunteers to teach the courses wherever they’re made available.

Want to get involved? Get in touch with Joyce Mayberry at

California’s Skyrocketing Crime: How It Happened and What to Do About It

California’s Skyrocketing Crime: How It Happened and What to Do About It

Best practices for reducing crime can empower California to build safer communities through policy.

California’s Skyrocketing Crime: How It Happened and What to Do About It

Key Points

  • There has been a concerning increase in violent crime and homicide rates in California.
  • Cities like San Francisco and Oakland have been adversely affected by rising crime, leading to economic challenges, a decline in safety perception, and demands for action from various community groups.
  • Over the years policies and decisions at both the state and local levels are believed to have contributed to the rise in crime. These include changes in sentencing laws, budget reallocations, and the election of progressive district attorneys. However, there is still great potential for political repercussions and the need for innovative solutions to address crime.

A recent headline from the satirical news website The Babylon Bee read “California Achieves World’s First Crime Rate Of Zero After Legalizing All Crime.” That piece reads in part:

“This is a great moment for our state,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “No other state in the nation’s history has successfully brought the crime rate down to nothing. California is once again leading the way! Now, please, for the safety of your loved ones, don’t venture out of your homes at night. Or at least carry an air horn. Whatever. I don’t care.”

Analysts point to the state’s legalization of all criminal acts as the catalyst for reaching a zero crime rate. “It was a bold but revolutionary move,” said Professor Kyle Ray of the California Crime Institute. “California has effectively eliminated all crime from existence simply by making every unlawful or despicable act completely acceptable. Murder, assault, robbery — these are yesterday’s terms. Californians are now truly free to express themselves however they choose. Zero crime!”

Unfortunately, sometimes life comes a little too close to imitating art. In California’s case, de-carceration, de-prosecution, and de-policing has led to a toxic mix that has eroded public safety in the Golden State.

While crime began to crest in many states in 2022, the 2022 Crime in California report shows:

  • State-wide violent crime was up 6.1% compared to 2021.
  • Property crime was up 6.2% over the same time period.
  • The homicide rate increased 23.9% in the five years since 2017. 
  • By contrast, the rates for overall arrests and homicide arrests declined in 2022.


San Francisco and Oakland: California Beacons of Opportunity Turned Cautionary Tales 

Two Bay-area cities—San Francisco and Oakland—exemplify California’s public safety decline.

In San Francisco, a destination once regarded as the booming tech hub of the world, rising violent crime, homelessness, and open-air drug markets have led to massive exits from businesses large and small. In fact, the number of fleeing businesses is so large that several media and advocacy groups have developed databases of all the companies leaving. 

This trend has severely damaged the city’s reputation. A recent Gallup poll found that only 52% of Americans thought San Francisco was safe—down from 70% in 2006. It has also opened San Francisco up to the negative impact that crime has on economic opportunity. As multiple studies have found, violent crime robs communities of job growth and economic mobility—an outcome that tends to hurt disadvantaged communities and low-income residents the most. 

Across the Golden Gate Bridge in Oakland, CA, residents have become so tired of unabated violent crime that the local NAACP chapter joined Black religious leaders in calling on city leadership to declare a “state of emergency” over the impact of surging violence on minority communities. They specifically called out “failed leadership, including the movement to defund the police,” as well as the failure to “prosecute people who murder and commit life threatening serious crimes.” 

Bad ideas in Oakland have contributed to a cycle of violence that has trapped low-income residents in places they feel unsafe. The NAACP chapter there is demanding accountability, both of the offenders and of the politicians who placate them. In the first six months of 2023, crime is up 26% overall in Oakland,  according to the Oakland Police Department.


How Did California Get Into This Crime Crisis?

How did California get here? A brew of bad policies at the state and local levels over the last decade appears to have finally come to a head. 

  • Beginning in 2011, in response to a lawsuit about prison crowding, the California legislature passed AB 109, “Public Safety Realignment,” which made most property and drug offenses ineligible for state prison sentences and eliminated state parole supervision in most instances in favor of less intensive county options.


  •  Then, in 2014, voters approved Proposition 47,  “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” which made all types of theft under $950 and some drug crimes misdemeanors.


  • In 2016, voters approved Proposition 57, “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016” which created a system of earned early release that applied to many inmates, including those convicted of rape, gang, and gun crimes.


  • Finally, in 2020, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons, Governor Newsom released more than 10,000 inmates back onto the street, many of whom had violent and serious convictions.

At the local level, both San Francisco and Oakland reduced or repurposed portions of their police department budgets amid calls to “defund” the police. In 2020, San Francisco diverted $120 million from the police department and sheriff’s office budgets over the next two years. In Oakland, the city council repurposed $17 million away from the police department in favor of doubling the budget of a civilian crime prevention entity.

And then there are the elected District Attorneys. In San Francisco, progressive defense attorney Chesa Boudin was elected in 2020, along with a wave of other progressive prosecutors around the country with large financial backing. In addition to not prosecuting a host of lower-level crimes, Boudin quickly announced he would not pursue enhanced penalties for gang members. Crime rose dramatically, and Boudin was recalled in 2022.

Shortly after the Boudin recall, Oakland elected district attorney Pamela Price, who promised to discontinue use of those same enhanced penalties and favor probation over incarceration. She is currently facing the potential of her own recall effort.



The tragic story of Christian Gwynn who was fatally shot as a result of violence is a wake-up call to the need for change in policies that will reduce urban violence.


Rising Crime Doesn’t Have to be the New Norm in California—or Anywhere Else

Now there is mounting fear of even greater political blowback. But political implications aside, it doesn’t have to be this way.

We recently published our first analysis of a city and state’s public safety infrastructure. While this initial report looks at Atlanta, GA, the implications extend to cities and states across the country. Blue and red cities in blue and red states have been innovating and implementing best practices to reduce crime and violence, and these steps are helping several communities restore safety, hope, and opportunity. 

For more on how cities and states can get back on the right track, check out the report and recommendations here.

About The Author

Josh Crawford

Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives

Josh Crawford is a native of Massachusetts. He went to Penn State for his undergraduate degree and then finished law school in Boston. After a brief stint in Sacramento, California, working in the county district attorney’s office, Josh moved to Kentucky to help start the Pegasus Institute, a nonpartisan organization designed to promote opportunity. In addition to serving as executive director of the organization, Josh had a special focus on criminal justice policy.

“By focusing on public safety and order, we can restore hope and opportunity to rural communities.”

Lilly grant will bring the Parents First Initiative to Lawrenceville, enabling families to thrive

New report seeks to ease spike in Atlanta crime, restore community safety

Georgia Center For Opportunity Press Release, current events, news, top stories

New report seeks to ease spike in Atlanta crime, restore community safety

The Georgia Center for Opportunity is releasing a new report on violent crime in Atlanta, which highlights the city’s recent spike in violent crime and how to mitigate it.

Josh Crawford, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatives at GCO, developed the report, along with recommendations for reducing violent crime in Atlanta.

“The brief and its recommendations are designed to create a base level of what order and public safety should look like across the board,” Crawford says. “It’s imperative that we have an intentional conversation about the state of crime in Atlanta now, and how we can improve that for the future.”

According to Crawford’s report, criminal activity reduces opportunities in both small communities and metropolitan areas, destabilizing them in the process. In addition, crime devalues both businesses and individuals in those areas.

Although there have been positive steps toward improvement in Atlanta during recent years, there’s still work to be done. Some of those measures still need to be implemented, while other solutions need to be developed. In his report, Crawford shares a number of recommendations.

A Dramatic Spike in Violent Crime

Since 2018, the rates of violent crime and homicide have increased dramatically in Atlanta. The largest spike occurred during 2020 and was a reflection of the broader trend nationwide. Between 2009 and 2017, homicides in Atlanta tended to average 90 or fewer, with a few exceptions in 2008 (105) and 2016 (113).

Since the rise in violent crime began in 2018, Atlanta has not experienced a year with fewer than 80 murders, with an additional 217 people murdered over the previous decade’s average.

On top of the rising crime, many convicted violent criminals in Georgia aren’t serving out their full sentences. As a result, they’re being released back onto the streets long before their sentences end. For example:

      • Attempted murder convicts released during 2022 had only served 7.91 years of their sentences on average, or 35.78% of the time they were meant to serve
      • That same year, aggravated assault convicts had only served 4.03 years on average, or 29.57% of their sentences
      • Felons convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm had served only 2.83 years on average, or 27.29% of their full sentences

To make matters worse, a dip in law enforcement personnel has coincided with the rise in crime.

Pinpointing High-Crime Areas in and Around Atlanta

Crawford says that the majority of crime tends to be concentrated in small, dense areas controlled by violent gangs.

“We have to focus our efforts on gang-controlled areas across the city,” he says. “By doing that, we’ll start to see significant gains. It’s a more effective approach than trying to broaden our reach.”

Once law enforcement has pinpointed high-crime areas, Crawford says they can then implement a series of strategies he calls “focused deterrence.” In other words, incidences of violent crime–such as homicides and shootings–would theoretically be reduced. This result is possible through concentrated social service and law enforcement activities in these gang-controlled sectors.

Using the combined, competent approach of law enforcement and social services would enable individual criminals to undergo rehabilitation. These measures would emphasize getting to the root of the problem, and helping each person to make the necessary changes to his or her life.

“We believe it’s not possible to truly help reduce crime without directly addressing the person or problem where it originates,” Crawford says.

More Recommendations for Improving Community Safety

In addition to narrowing the focus to areas of high gang activity and addressing individuals wherever possible, there are also things that can be done to improve community safety in those areas. Here are some of the steps Crawford recommends.

Address disrepair in Atlanta’s communities by expanding cleanup efforts, tearing down or renovating abandoned buildings, and installing adequate street lighting
Build trust between community residents and law enforcement and social services, particularly through protecting the rights of victims

Remove egregious offenders from communities by implementing gang-enhancement provisions such as SB44 (2023) that keep these individuals incarcerated
Improve and require pre-entry cognitive behavioral therapy services for all juvenile offenders, no matter how non-violent their offenses

Reevaluate reentry programs through an external third party, examining the impact on revocation, rearrest, and reconviction

Through this strategic, multi-layered approach, Crawford estimates that it would be possible to reduce Atlanta’s caseload to no more than six homicides each year.