Opelika’s YIPP succeeds in reducing recidivism among youth

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 9:44 PM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - The Opelika Youth Incarceration Prevention Program is celebrating a year of success.

Thanks to the Youth Incarceration Prevention Program, also known as YIPP, Chico Perry will be the first male in his family to attend college.

“We all came down here on different mindsets, now we all know what we want to do,” said Perry.

Police Chief Shane Healey says After seeing a spike in crime in 2018, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller began making plans to take a holistic approach.

“We saw a need to do something more to get to the root of the problem,” said Healey.

Community and city leaders like YIPP project director Skip Long, Municipal Court Judge Denise Rogers and Alabama State Representative Jeremy Grey wanted the program to help decrease recidivism among youth.

We do not want to see these young men and women in and out of jail,” said Judge Rogers.

Long says the program’s goal was to reduce the number of young people returning to the juvenile justice system in Opelika by 10% and he says the program has done well beyond that.

“Out of those 120, none of them have been back in the system,” said Skip Long.

Before being apart of YIPP, Perry found himself escaping trouble right in the knick of time, but now, Perry says the program has taught him to always take the good route and never take the bad route.

“I seen people throw their life away over something dumb and I don’t want to be like that next person,” said Perry.

Gray says not all of the participants have been in trouble with the law. “It’s about keeping them and preventing them from going to jail,” explained Gray.

Long says the program is designed to help the participants achieve success. “Moving you from being a statistic to a scholar,” said Long.

Like many of the other participants, Chico Perry is headed in the right direction.

“I want to set an example for my kids later on in life if I can do it they can do it too,” said Perry.

Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey says the program has helped shift the atmosphere of Alabama and made it a safer place.

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