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Former Criminals to Help Memphis Youth

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(Memphis) Former gang leaders and drug dealers are who Memphis Mayor A C Wharton believes can help the youth in our city.

He's appointed five reformed men to head-up a violence intervention team.

If you want to know about dealing drugs in Orange Mound, ask Link Fisher.

"I would say I really turned things around at age 35," he said.

Or if you want to know what it's like to be shot in the face, Lonnie Gouldin can tell you about that, "At nine years old I was shot in the left eye."

Or how it feels to  live a life of violence and then be asked up to lead the mayor's violence intervention team.

"I was one of the leaders of the gangster disciples," said Delvin Lane.  "It's humbling to see [the City] trusted me . I won't let them down."

Lane is now the leader of the 901 Bloc Squad. It's a group of five men hired by the City of Memphis to build relationships with young gang members in Frayser and South Memphis.

"We have street workers that are going to hit the streets and help our kids get on the right track, get jobs and get educated," said Lane.

 Connecting with our youth without fear, ignorance or judgement," said Gouldin.

The men say they can have a bigger impact on our youth than most outreach workers because 'they've been there and done that'.

"After seeing a need I said 'wow! Maybe I could turn my life around and be a positive influence on some of the younger brothers'," said Fisher.

The mayor is  hoping the lives and experiences of these men will inspire hope and change on the streets where there is none.

"I give credit to the good lord upstairs that stopped me in my track and saved my life," said Lane.

As for these guys, they say it's all been the work of a higher power.

"God was the real spearhead of my change," said Fisher.

The mayor says the men will receive extensive training for the next three months by the National Yoth Gang Center and will likely hit the streets sometime in January.