Getting a Grip on Crime | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Getting a Grip on Crime

Larry Nelson Sr., at his desk at Hometown Auto Sales on Robinson Road, is offering a $10,000 reward to find who killed his son, Larry Nelson Jr.

Larry Nelson Sr., at his desk at Hometown Auto Sales on Robinson Road, is offering a $10,000 reward to find who killed his son, Larry Nelson Jr. Photo by Sophie McNeil

With his head low and hands clasped together, Larry Nelson Sr. begins to talk about his son, Larry Nelson Jr., who, without his family's knowledge, fell deep into gang activity and drugs.

After spending time with his brother, Latez, and other friends on July 4, 2007, Nelson Jr. dropped off his brother at home. Later that evening, Latez got the call that his 27-year-old brother had been killed. He had been shot in the back.

When Jackson Mayor Frank Melton took office July 4, 2005, he declared that he would combat crime and bring numbers down within 90 days. Since then, crimeæ like the unsolved murder of Nelson Jr.æhas increased in the city. According to the Jackson Police Department's web site, there were 486 major crimes reported from June 30 to July 13, 2008.

Melton has had his own brush with the law. He and his two bodyguards, Michael Recio and Marcus Wright, were indicted July 9 on federal charges for allegedly tearing down parts of Jennifer Sutton's home on Ridgeway Street in Jackson on Aug. 26, 2006. They are charged with violating civil rights, possession of a firearm during a violent crime, and unlawful search and seizures.

Royce Smith Jr., owner of Country Fresh Produce on Valley Street, is wary of Melton's efforts to battle crime but has seen improvements near his store in the Washington Addition since petitioning for more police presence in late May.

"(The petition) has helped some because I do see more police presence out there," he said. "In general, though, the whole city is going to have to get a grip on crime. There's been so much happening all over."

Smith says that he doesn't see Melton's crime-fighting attitude helping the city.

"(Melton) is using his popularity as propaganda to help him with his legal problems," he speculated.

But some residents are not convinced that Melton is the reason for Jackson's crime problem. Jimmy Robinson, president of the Virden Addition Association, believes that though there is a shortage of police officers in his area, they are doing their best to keep the area safe despite the mayor's legal woes.

Weighing the number of officers against the crime they are combating, Robinson believes they are doing what they can.

"Anytime the engine is bad, that causes a problems with the box cars," Robinson said. "You have got to look at the overall picture. Something has to be done."

The house targeted in the federal charges against Melton and his two bodyguards is located in the Virden Addition.

Gloria's Kitchen owner and Melton supporter Clarence Bolls said the mayor has helped him since being in office, unlike previous administrations. Bolls, whose restaurant sits in Virden Addition just down the street from Sutton's home, said people should not point fingers at the mayor.

"(Melton's) ticket he ran on was crime. We (were) so thirsty for someone to come along that was not afraid to speak out against crime and tackle the problem head on." Bolls said.

To help those who have already become victims of crime, Nelson Sr. has created a monthly support group, Victims Seeking Justice Thru Jesus Christ Our Savior, for those in need. Nelson Sr. said 30 to 35 percent of the members have cases that are unsolved.

As an incentive for people to come forward in his son's murder, Nelson offered a $5,000 reward along with a $1,000 Crime Stoppers award. Recently, he changed his reward to $10,000, with the $1,000 Crime Stoppers reward, in hopes he will get justice for his son's death.

Previous Comments

ID
132665
Comment

“Anytime the engine is bad, that causes a problems with the box cars,” Robinson said. “You have got to look at the overall picture. Something has to be done.” So, what can we do? How can we use the inspiration of people in this piece to come up with ideas on how to help our communities and prevent crime, not just react to it? Who's ready to put your money, and your time, and your ideas, where your mouth is? It's easy to complain about crime, and blame it on the police -- but what is every community member ready to do? Let's talk.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-07-31T09:24:06-06:00
ID
132666
Comment

Oh, and no whining allowed.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-07-31T09:26:05-06:00
ID
132678
Comment

Can we start with addressing the issue of concentrated poverty in areas like Virden Addition? Donna, we miss the point on crime alot in Jackson because we think that people who commit crimes are just no good, lazy bums who have no redeeming values and the only way to deal with crimes is more jails and more guns in homes. This limits our thinking about crime prevention. If we start looking at how so many poor people live in such close proximity, and what that does to the tax base and therefore subsequent economic development and police presence in such communities, then we can begin to see the true "big picture" in all of this. I went to a church service recently and the preacher was commenting on the recent shooting of the JPD officer by two young back men. He noted that one of the first things one of the suspects said when he was arrested was "when do I eat?" The preacher questioned why the suspect thought that the most important thing was when he would eat? The preacher's only response was that the jail must be too nice of a place for criminals. I wonder, would the preacher ever stop to think that maybe the suspect asked about eating because he was hungry? That, perhaps, this young man was robbing businesses because he really felt as though he had no better alternatives? Maybe, if he was gainfully employed with good vocational skills that would have allowed him real access to opportunity, he would not be out robbing for food? Maybe I’m just living in liberal “La-la land” and not grounded in reality, but, as the article stated, crime has gone up in Jackson since Melton has taken over. Is that because people have just gotten worse morally, or is it because opportunities for economic development and vocational training have gone down? Blackwatch!!!!!!!

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2008-07-31T11:00:40-06:00
ID
132680
Comment

We also must figure out who the powerful people are putting people into positions to commit crimes, and giving them the drugs to sell. Until we do, both street criminals and victims are merely pawns on a chess board.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-07-31T11:18:59-06:00
ID
132681
Comment

It is also true that the more people flee Jackson in response to crime sensationalism, regardless of whether crime is up or down, then the more the tax base shrinks and hurts everyone. That is why it is really, really stupid for people to oppose reinvestment in downtown.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-07-31T11:20:43-06:00
ID
132690
Comment

David Brooks, who writes a logical column every now and then in the New York Times, gets to the heart of the problem: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/29/opinion/29brooks.html?ei=5070&en=7feeb8536cd8c6e0&ex=1218081600&emc=eta1&pagewanted=print

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-07-31T11:47:57-06:00
ID
132698
Comment

Why in the hell has America depended upon this outdated way we fight crime for so long? First and foremost it needs to be illegal to discriminate against some one because they've been to jail, and convicts should retain there right to vote. We can't keep letting them out without giving them some type of help, aid them in changing their ways. Help them get themselves a GED and degree before they leave jail, along with some vocational training, and psychiatry if need be. Yes, some of them will still end up going back to jail, but the current system is definitely broken and needs to be fixed. Mixed-income neighborhoods and more job opportunities wouldn't hurt either.

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2008-07-31T14:00:36-06:00
ID
132719
Comment

GET RID OF DRUGS AND DRUGDEALERS. Clean up the addicts and let's see if this doesn't change things. Most of the crimes especially murders are drug related. I know this should not be a problem since messy melton seems to know who the dealers are. I am sure he could get them to tell where the drugs are coming from. Armed wih this knowledge I am sure our crack drug enforcement agencies would do the rest.

Author
jada
Date
2008-08-01T00:01:14-06:00
ID
132724
Comment

It is a fact that about 70% of those who are incarcerated have reading problems. They have serious employment barriers. If we do a better job educating children we could probably cut crime by 50% within twenty years. There will always be SOME crime because there will always be some idiots and emotional problems even among the literate.

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-08-01T09:08:32-06:00
ID
132727
Comment

GET RID OF DRUGS AND DRUGDEALERS. Clean up the addicts and let's see if this doesn't change things. Most of the crimes especially murders are drug related. I know this should not be a problem since messy melton seems to know who the dealers are. I am sure he could get them to tell where the drugs are coming from. Armed wih this knowledge I am sure our crack drug enforcement agencies would do the rest. We've had a War on Drugs for over 30 years in this country. How is that going so far? We've doubled (tripled?) prison populations, *created* the private prison industry, armed our domestic police force to the teeth, poured billions into interdiction systems that could have been used on levees and bridges -- OH...and given criminal records to millions of non-violent people, making it more difficult for them to get work, participate in society and, in many states, vote. We've created a global underground market that surpasses anything this country saw during alcohol prohibition, involving terrorists organizations, regimes and entire countries funded by the drug trade. We've criminalized addiction and stigmatized it to the point where it's difficult for impoverished people to get help prior to a run-in with the law and it's certainly questionable whether our current criminal justice system deals appropriately with the problem of addiction or even small-time distribution. So, my solution would amend jada's approach. I would love to get rid of DRUGDEALERS, particularly those that are the last spoke of criminal syndicates, enterprises and networks that feed our burgeoning underground market. How? End the Drug War...responsibly, after much discussion, study, handwringing, test cases, expert testimony, politics and an extraordinary amount of Legislation. "No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-08-01T10:54:27-06:00
ID
132728
Comment

"If objectives can not be attained, do not deploy the army." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-08-01T11:38:42-06:00
ID
132732
Comment

Bolls ... said people should not point fingers at the mayor. “(Melton’s) ticket he ran on was crime. We (were) so thirsty for someone to come along that was not afraid to speak out against crime and tackle the problem head on.” Bolls said. that doesnt make any sense. 'he ran on crime' and, well, he has failed to deliver. so lets swap out. he mislead us. what is she on about? what if tackling the problem head on isnt what was needed? it might be a better solution to take out the feet.

Author
jrt
Date
2008-08-01T12:43:18-06:00
ID
132734
Comment

jrt, good point. Melton ran on crime...then screwed up the situation re: JPD while the crime rate climbed. That would be sort of like running for president on a platform of fiscal discipline and opposition to nation-building, then running record deficits and invading two countries. Not that anybody would have been stupid enough to do that.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2008-08-01T13:18:36-06:00
ID
132736
Comment

yeah. that would be silly.

Author
jrt
Date
2008-08-01T14:40:41-06:00
ID
132743
Comment

FYI, Clarence Bolls was holding the Free Melton sign during the arriagnment -- him and one other man.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-01T22:34:16-06:00
ID
132770
Comment

Two other ways to combat crime: *Do what you can to decrease your chances of becoming a victim. Don't leave your car door unlocked, especially with the keys in the ignition, and ESPECIALLY with children in the back seat. If you're on vacation, put your mail on hold or have someone you trust pick it up for you. Trim your bushes in front of your house. Be aware of your surroundings when you're out alone and walk like you'll crack some heads if you're messed with. Don't openly boast about your valuables. Things like that. *The citizens should police themselves. I'm not saying be a vigilante, but we have a shortage of officers, and even if we had 1000 officers, they can't be everywhere at once, so we should do our part. You shouldn't live on a block where you don't know any of your neighbors. Get to know at least one. Promise to watch out for each other and report anything suspicious on their behalf, even if it seems futile to do so. You never know who you may help.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-08-03T17:04:52-06:00
ID
132789
Comment

If the birthrate among teenagers could be greatly reduced, over time you would see a significant drop-off in the crime rate. It's really that simple.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2008-08-04T11:59:27-06:00
ID
132793
Comment

The good news is that teen pregnancy is down in the U.S. It clearly isn't the only issue. Jobs and education are big ones, too. So is the violent gun culture we live in. Then there's that War on Drugs that guarantees all this street violence. It's a tough nut to crack, and one that the public hasn't, to date, had the will to crack.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-04T12:58:22-06:00
ID
132815
Comment

Reported gun crimes are down about a 1/2 million cases from its high in 1993. Doesn't seem that way when you hear the news everyday, does it? (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/guncrimetab.htm) Still too many, but an improvement, it's increased slightly in the past 2 years. Don't know how accurate the numbers are because the chart does say that the data is base on what is reported to the FBI. I guess not all police departments report everything. Like Donna, I think increasing education and jobs and decreasing drug crimes will be the key to reducing overall crime.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2008-08-04T15:18:20-06:00
ID
132825
Comment

Rehabilitating ex-offenders might help: http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/slammed-the-shawnee-redemption.html

Author
FreeClif
Date
2008-08-04T17:22:43-06:00

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