Brionna Greer, an Owensboro resident and student at Kentucky State University, plans to go to law school and become a criminal defense attorney.
Greer's interest in the criminal justice system, and keeping young people from ending up in incarceration, came from people she'd met over the years.
"Growing up, I've seen a lot of my peers go to the Bowling Green detention center, and from the people I know who are incarcerated as well," Greer said Thursday. "It's a cycle that repeats, and I wanted to see if I could make a difference."
Sunday afternoon, Greer will host "Breaking the Cycle," a youth summit that aims to bring teens between the ages of 13 and 17 together with people who can speak first-hand about crime and incarceration.
The community event will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at Dugan Best Community Center, 1003 Omega St.
"It's about breaking the incarceration cycle and keeping (teens) out of jail," Greer said.
The speakers will be from the local community, including people who have been incarcerated, Greer said. Other speakers will include a person who has worked with youth in Chicago and a detective.
"I wanted someone who is actually in law enforcement, who deals with kids," Greer said.
A man and a woman who have been incarcerated, relating their stories from the male and female perspectives as well, Greer said.
Young men who might be caught up in dangerous behavior that leads to criminal charges often learn those behaviors by example, from fathers who themselves have been incarcerated, Greer said.
"I feel like, for young men, how can they be a man when they don't see one?" Greer said. "They only see what their father has done in the past." Young men need positive role models, such as through a mentorship program, Greer said.
The event will also take a moment to remember those who have been killed in gun violence. Owensboro and Daviess County have experienced multiple gun homicides this year, including incidents were people killed in shootings were not the intended targets.
The event is free and will include food and door prizes.
Greer said the hope is that teens attending the event will come away understanding the importance of staying away from criminal activity.
"I just want to see if I can touch one child," Greer said. "I want it to be an eye-opening experience for someone."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse