Violence Intervention Program
The Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Violence Intervention Program (VIP) is a pilot program designed to assist clients who are arrested with a weapon, but did not use that weapon in a crime. The program works to prevent felony offenders with gun-related specifications from becoming a gun-violence or even homicide-related statistic.
VIP is presided over by Administrative and Presiding Judge Brendan J. Sheehan. “So many people feel they need to carry a weapon for protection,“ said Judge Sheehan. “We want to encourage behavior-change options to having a gun that could prevent future violence.”
Myesha Crowe, Executive Director of Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, is one of the stakeholders in the program. “VIP is defined as a Very Important Person. Every young person selected to be in this program is a VIP. This is an opportunity to understand that we all have the power of choice,” says Crowe.
Currently, the program is limited to 50 people.
Stream highlights from the first VIP graduation ceremony in June 2022.
VIP receives support from the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judges, the Court’s Probation Department, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, and other agency stakeholders.
The pilot program is funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Affairs. Volunteer peer mentors, trauma therapists, and job placement agencies assist the program to target participants, specifically young men between the ages of 18 and 26 from high-poverty Cleveland neighborhoods known for gun-related homicides.