One thing many of us are uncomfortable speaking up about is crime, especially when it involves our young people. We hear stories, like David Lee Windecher’s story, of gangs and drug wars. David Lee Windecher grew up in the streets of Miami. When he was only eleven years old he was arrested for the first time for shop lifting. As a child of poverty, this set off a chain of events which led to David being arrested 13 times before the age of 20. He began to sell drugs so that his family would be able to eat and joined a gang where he was the mastermind behind an entire crime ring; all of these things happening while he was still a teenager.
These stories show that the gang and drug life are very real problems that America’s teens are facing today, but we often times assume they are located in big cities. Unfortunately, these problems are hitting very close to home. In Polk County, Florida alone, there are 30 active gangs with nearly 5,000 members. The prison system in Florida is home to a total of 34 gangs that include a variety of different members, many of them juveniles with no hope of a different and better future. The overall crime rate in Polk County has gone up 5% in the last year with the murder rate increasing by 20%. Also in the last year there were 3,719 complaints to police about juveniles. 167 of those juveniles committed crimes that got them sent directly to adult court. Drugs have become easily available to teens and are increasing daily.
While many teens are sucked into this life, it does not have to dictate their entire story. David Lee Windecher found himself facing 15 years in a Florida State Penitentiary for felony aggravated assault and decided enough was enough. He went on to go to law school and became a defense attorney in Atlanta with the ability to practice in both Georgia and Florida. He found God and completely turned his life around. David has written a book called The American Dream: HisStory in the Making and hopes it will impact young people’s lives. He would like to see juveniles get off the streets, and he hopes that they will not fall victim to a lack of hope for a better future.
It is important that we start to bring attention to the crime, gang, and drug rates hitting close to home. Our young people are our future and they need to know that there are other options for their lives.