Profile No. 45

Project LIFE -- Indianapolis, IN

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Court-related program.

Program Goal:
To educate juveniles about the impact that guns have on human life.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Juvenile and youth gun offenders.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Marion County, IN.

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection.

Contact Information:
Robyn Snyder
Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Division
2451 North Keystone Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46218
Phone: 317­924­7440

Years of Operation:

Project LIFE (Lasting Intense Firearms Education) was initiated in 1991 by the Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Division, in response to an alarming increase in the number of youth carrying guns. In 1995, amended criminal justice statutes stipulated that 16- and 17-year-olds would enter the adult system when charged with handgun violations. The criteria also were expanded to include youth who possess other dangerous weapons (e.g., knives, box cutters, and blackjacks).

Project LIFE delivers directed messages intended to disrupt the apathetic attitudes of youth regarding gun experimentation. This mandatory program targets youth who are also on probation for committing a weapons crime. The educational sessions are held every 6 weeks, lasting 2 to 3 hours per meeting, and are limited to 10 youth offenders and their parents. The objectives of Project LIFE are to: (1)educate youth regarding the impact of guns and other weapons, (2)portray guns and other weapons as instruments that kill and injure people and demonstrate that there is always a potential victim when someone is armed with a weapon, and (3) include parents and guardians in the learning process. As part of the educational process, participants view graphic police videos from homicide scenes and other visual media. Throughout the process, Project LIFE staff encourage each juvenile to recount the circumstances that led to his or her arrest, to accept responsibility for the crime, and to examine what he or she might have done differently. The parents of gun victims also recount the tragedy of their children's involvement with guns. To date, 474 offenders have participated in this program.

In 1998, 94 percent of the participants rated the program good or excellent. In 1997 and 1998, 89 percent of the participants agreed that the program provided substantial information on the dangers of gun use. Participants who felt that Project LIFE helped them set positive goals and refrain from experimenting with guns increased from 72 percent in 1997 to 80 percent in 1998.

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report