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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Criminal Justice faculty receive federal violence prevention grant

With a $750,000 three-year federal grant, two New Mexico State University criminal justice professors will lead a community effort to create a Family Life Center and an arts-based violence prevention program for youth.

s one of 20 higher education institutions to receive the funding from the Family and Community Violence Prevention Program (FCVP) through the Office of Minority Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The FCVP program was developed in 1994 to impact the increasing incidence of violence and abusive behavior in low-income, at-risk communities through the mobilization of community partners to address these issues, said Lisa Bond-Maupin, an assistant professor of criminal justice and principal investigator for the project. The award, $250,000 per year for three years, will be used to mobilize the Las Cruces community to create a place for families to interact and to develop an arts-based prevention program for Las Cruces youth ages 14-18, Bond-Maupin said.

Las Cruces community partners include the Court Youth Center, Pioneer Alternative Program, Branigan Library, the Southwest Environmental Center, the Youth Advocates Alliance, and NMSU students, faculty and staff from criminal justice and other university departments.

The program, which will begin in December, will include in-school, after-school and summer components addressing the academic, personal, cultural and career development of youth at risk for involvement in violent or abusive behavior. A weekend component will involve family members in activities to improve family bonding, parenting and social interaction skills.

Activities will include researching, writing and producing reader's theater focusing on nonviolence, writing poetry and holding a poetry slam for high school students in the community, the creation of an art and community garden, a culinary arts project and the creation and marketing of a cookbook based on family recipes. There also will be mural projects that feature themes related to local cultural history and nonviolence.

The family center and art activities will be housed at the Court Youth Center and will start by serving 35 high school students who are on long-term suspension from high school.

The program evaluation will be led by James Maupin, an associate professor of criminal justice, and will include pre- and post-testing of participants that will use a variety of scales to measure cultural identity and pride, career interest and job preparedness, family bonding and involvement in delinquent and violent activities.

Bond-Maupin said the program also will be evaluated based on the participants' abilities to collaborate effectively and to identify and use nonviolent means to resolve conflict.