HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) - A non-profit group is trying to help a teenage boy safely get out of gang life. The group, Escape, plans to meet with several gang leaders later this week.
A 15 year old, entangled in a local gang made a call for help with a drawing, which shows all the problems gang life has caused him.
"The way the system is set up right now he might get harmed trying to get out," says Willie Watt, Executive Director of Escape.
Watt is trying to seize an opportunity, after a federal gang bust a few weeks ago.
"There's a lot of disarray right now in the rankings. This is an opportunity for Escape to talk to some of the gang leaders," says Watt.
Next weekend four members of Escape will privately meet with an equal number of gang members. Watt hopes they'll release the teenage boy without consequences.
"You have to have some credibility. For me, its being a former gang member myself," says Watt.
Watt plans to bring a barbecue grill to the meeting, because he wants the gang members to be as comfortable as possible and he hopes minimize the threat.
"Its got to be OK'd by each of the members of the gang to determine what that location is going to be," says Watt.
Escape is also using a new program this year that will help gang members catch up on school work, learn behavior management, and offer them career exploration. The teacher, Kate Lawrence, will cover the topics, in part by asking a series of questions.
"What do you like to do? What are you interested in? How can you make that useful for society?" says Lawrence.
"When you put a job in a person's hand, you take a gun or drugs out," says Watt.
Watt says if he gets one or two gang members out every year, then others will follow on the road to success.
Holland Police say they support efforts to get people out of gang life, as long as it's in cooperation with their department.