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Burke County programs help at-risk teens

These papers found on Devon Harris's desk are just a small piece around the room describing his passion for his work. (Source: WRDW)
These papers found on Devon Harris's desk are just a small piece around the room describing his passion for his work. (Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 24, 2020 at 7:09 PM EST
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Friday, Jan. 24, 2020

News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

BURKE COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Gang violence in Burke County is rising and it's putting the sheriff's office and one unique non-profit into action: Full Circle Refuge.

The program is run by executive director, Devon Harris.

"Most kids don't wake up one day and say, 'I want to commit a crime.' It's usually a learned process over time," Harris said.

Harris visits with young adults struggling to find the right path.

"It's amazing the conversations we have with kids the first time we meet them. They say stuff I didn't ask them to share," said Harris.

He has been helping teens for more than 20 years, to give them the tools they need to stay out of jail and in line for a future, but he said he can't do it alone.

"I'm willing to be there, but it's going to take the community to really come alongside us," said Harris.

"A lot of our violent crimes that happen here are with juveniles or teenagers you know, and they are getting younger and younger," Sgt. Anthony Bennerman, from the Burke County Sheriff's office, said.

"It starts at home, it starts within the community, I can get them out the community for an hour, talk to them, tell them what's right and what's wrong, but once they go back out into that environment, that's what matters the most," said Bennerman.

With grants given to the police department and to programs like Full Circle Refuge, they can make changes, to crime rate and lives.

"I might be walking in the community, anywhere, at the mall and a kid will come up to me, years ago and whatever and say, that program changed my life," said Harris.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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