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Program helps past offenders stay out of jail

The program is called "Ceasefire" and since 2015 it takes those on probation or parole and helps them stay out of jail.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County law enforcement fear what the summer will bring, as gun-related crimes continue to rise.

In a bid to help curb gun violence, Ceasefire Columbia, looks to deter gun-related crimes and help prevent offenders from continuing to commit crimes. 

The program identifies at risk offenders and helps them to continue to remain out of the penal system. 

Thirty-five individuals, both men and women, attended this years event, most out on parole or probation. 

Columbia Police Chief  Skip Holbrook and the United States Attorney's Office – District of South Carolina hosted this years 'Columbia Offender Program'.

According to the Columbia Police departments website, "Project Ceasefire is administered by the Office of United States Attorney, District of South Carolina as part of the national effort known as Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  In 2015, the Columbia Police adopted the project and now refers to it as Ceasefire Columbia."

Chief Holbrook says the program arrived at just the right time, "Timing couldn't be better, considering the uptick in shootings and violent crime we've seen."

Holbrook says thirty-three people have been shot this year, seven were fatal.

RELATED: 'This is a public health crisis': Community leaders look to address gun violence

"This strategy is identifying individuals that are most vulnerable and susceptible to being a victim of violent crime or being a suspect in a violent crime," said Holbrook. 

Law enforcement says those who attended are here, because of their past criminal activity or who they associate with now.

Past offenses of some of the participants are things like gun offense, having a gun, robberies, some burglaries and some who are associating with gang members or are part of gangs.   

RELATED: 'No mother should have to bury her child': Sheriff calls for end to gun violence

Holbrook went on to say the event is about choices.

During the 2019 ceasefire event of the 32 people who participated, 18% committed some kind of crime. 

Since this program began six-years ago, Ceasefire event organizers say a third of participants tend to take advantage of the event and don't re-offend, another third don't take advantage of the event but don't re-offend, while the remaining third commit crimes. 

Also in attendance several employment assistance agencies, mental health providers and drug and alcohol assistance programs.

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