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Mayor appoints Deskins to lead in new cabinet post

Duane Deskins was officially sworn in as the first Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth & Young Adults for the City of Cleveland on Tuesday Jan. 3 by Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson has appointed former prosecutor Duane Deskins to lead a newly created cabinet position Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth a& Young Adults.

During the swearing-in ceremony for Deskins this week, the Mayor noted: DORY

“We can’t claim to want a different reality for our kids and the communities they live in without becoming more intentional about solutions,” said Mayor Jackson. “As a result of this work we will see increased partnerships, develop leaders, and connect young people to the prosperity our city continues to develop.”

In choosing Deskins as the first to lead the post, the mayor could not have selected a more driven and passionate individual to begin addressing the plight of African Americans handicapped by the criminal justice system.

Deskins explained to the Call & Post what the position means to him personally and professionally.

“Personally as a cabinet level position in Mayor Jackson’s administration obviously it’s a great vote of confidence in me, “ Deskins said. “I recognize that and one of the great ways in which you repay that kind of trust and confidence is not through the words you say, but through the works you do. I’ve always made that very important to me in every position that I’ve had.”

Deskins comes to the city from the County Prosecutors Office where he led the juveniles and was the first assistant, and he says he tried to repay that trust in not by the things that he said, but by the deeds that he did on behalf of young people.

“Professionally, I hope to take everything that I have learned from the prosecutors office and across the country and apply that to the benefit of young people here in Cleveland, their parents, business partners, our foundation partners and law enforcement to see if we can do something here far better than anyone else has. That is to take our law enforcement, our consent decree and create opportunities for young people and keep them out of the criminal justice system,” Deskins added.

Before joining Mayor Jackson in his new post, Deskins had already been working with Case Western reserve on a study looking at both Cuyahoga County and neighborhoods in Cleveland to identify rare idle youth, people from maybe 16-19 who were not employed and not enrolled in school and the correlation between that and violent crimes.

The study revealed that most violent crimes were also in the neighborhoods of idle youths.

“That’s where I intend make a big push in trying to create opportunity. Not just educational opportunities but also for after school programs and also for employment opportunities so that people see that there is hope,” he concluded.

Deskins was officially sworn in as the first Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth & Young Adults for the City of Cleveland on Tuesday Jan. 3. He will report directly to the mayor.

In December Mayor Jackson announced that he created this cabinet level position of Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults and Duane Deskins will lead and coordinate this effort.

Deskins, a federal prosecutor for more than 30 years, joined the Prosecutor’s Office in December 2013 as Chief Prosecutor in the Juvenile Division and Director of Crime Prevention. During his tenure at Justice Department, Deskins worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and his native Cleveland.

Deskins helped shape and implement the department’s Project Safe Neighborhood and Project Sentry (PSN) strategy to reduce violent crime using data-driven initiatives and broad-based community collaborations.

Since taking charge of the Juvenile Justice Division, Duane has led a proactive effort to crack down on youth gang violence within the Detention Center and in neighborhoods throughout Cuyahoga County.

He has worked with police chiefs and community groups alike to deter juvenile crime and present at-risk youngsters with more positive options. He has also forged closer ties between prosecutors at Juvenile Court and those who work downtown at the Justice Center.

Deskins grew up in the Glenville and Shaker Square neighborhoods in Cleveland and graduated from St. Ignatius High School. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Boston College. He most recently served as the First Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.

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