William Outlaw is a natural leader. He's been a key figure in helping to lower New Haven's homicide rate over the last decade. He's a strategist and an organizer who can size up a situation quickly. He can defuse a threatening situation with his charisma and charm. He can run a business.
As a street outreach worker in New Haven, he uses all the same skills today that he used when he co-ran New Haven's largest cocaine gang in the 1980's.
He spent twenty years behind bars, surviving some of the most dangerous prisons in America. For the last decade, he's been giving back to the community he once harmed.
William takes responsibility for his crimes. He also recognizes that people make decisions within the framework of the opportunities and experiences available to them. The difference between William and an Ivy-educated CEO may be that William grew up in a public housing project steeped in a culture of violence and poverty.
William is still running a gang -- but using the same skills for a very different outcome.
- Charles Barber - Writer in residence at Wesleyan University and a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale. He’s the author of three books, most recently Citizen Outlaw: One Man’s Journey from Gangleader to Peacekeeper
- William Juneboy Outlaw III- Co-directs the Connecticut Violence Interruption Project, which seeks to reduce youth violence in New Haven. He’s also Senior Community Advocate at Good Will where he helps formerly incarcerated people reenter the community
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on November 14, 2019.