Precious Lives

Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence.

Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee? Explore the impact of gun violence on the community at large.

Learn more at Preciouslivesproject.org and to get help / give help, resources are available here.

Join the conversation on Facebook, follow the hashtag #PreciousLives on Twitter and subscribe for the podcast on iTunes.

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Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Focused deterrence is a law enforcement strategy that’s been around for nearly two decades. Some cities use it to curb violence, and sometimes it’s successful.

It works like this: pick a crime problem to tackle ­like homicide or a root cause like drug trafficking. Next, find out who’s part of the problem and then offer those people an incentive to change ­like jobs, drug treatment or state IDs. And if those particular people slip up again, give long prison sentences.

Titus Wamai

On June 15 in front of a packed Pabst Theater, kids and adults who have been touched by gun violence took the stage to perform in Precious Lives: The Live Show.

Listen to the entire performance here:

WUWM and 371 Produced dedicates this performance to those in our community who have lost a loved one to gun violence and to everyone working for peace.

Rachel Morello

On Wednesday night, the voices behind WUWM’s collaborative series Precious Lives took to the stage at the Pabst Theater. Precious Lives: The Live Show featured two dozen kids and adults from the Milwaukee area whose lives have been affected by gun violence. For most of the young people involved, this was the first time they shared their stories onstage in front of a large audience.

Titus Wamai

The Pabst Theater was packed to the rafters last night as the voices behind WUWM’s collaborative series Precious Lives came to life. Two dozen students and adults from the Milwaukee area used song and words to express how gun violence has touched their lives.

Before Precious Lives: The Live Show, Ben Duke shared why he had come.  He has decades of experience working with high school students.  

Duke is part of Milwaukee Public School’s division of school safety.

Courtesy of Kiran Vee

On Wednesday, June 15, Precious Lives will host a live performance at the Pabst Theater.

Kiran Vee, also known as Q the Sun, composes the music for our radio series, and has also scored the upcoming live show.

Keyon Jackson-Malone

Precious Lives: The Live Show is set for this Wednesday evening, June 15, at the Pabst Theater. People battered by gun violence in Milwaukee have agreed to express to hundreds of people how life has changed and the hope that still exists.

As the live show nears, Eric Von chatted with Precious Lives' executive producer Brad Lichtenstein, the live show's director Michelle Lopez-Rios and composer Kiran Vee on his WNOV radio show.

Paul Kjelland

On June 15, Milwaukeeans who never sought the limelight will take the stage at the Pabst Theater to share their stories of how gun violence has upset their lives.

At the first rehearsal for Precious Lives: The Live Show, cast member Leatanya Dunn allowed the pain of burying two family members to surface.

Tickets are available for $10. A discussion will follow the performance.

Courtesy of the City of Milwaukee

Police aides Sergio Rivera and Jada Greer grew up skeptical of police officers, and in communities where they weren’t phased by gunfire.

And now, if they succeed in the police aide program, they might join a new class of officers who will be responding to violent scenarios around the city.

Precious Lives spoke with them about why they’re motivated to join the force, and what kinds of officers they would like to be.

Paul Kjelland

Over a dozen Milwaukeeans who have suffered from gun violence are preparing to share their heartbreaks and hopes at the Pabst Theater on June 15.

Most of the cast has appeared in our collaborative series Precious Lives over the past 18 months.

Emily Forman / Precious Lives

On the evening of May 5, shots rang out between two rival groups on the 1500 block of West Meinecke Avenue in Milwaukee. After more than 40 rounds were fired, the only known victim was nine-year-old Za’Layia Jenkins.

She had been watching TV inside when the shots began. Za’layia was shot in the head and was declared brain dead a week and a half later, the day before her 10th birthday.

Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 1, 2015, Glendale Police Officer Eric Guse was at an event at the pet store that had raised money for his dog’s new ballistic vest when the call came in. Officer Guse had gotten carjacking calls before, but this one would change his life.

The dashcam in his squad car captured most of it: The black Porsche racing from Glendale to Milwaukee... The driver crashing the car and running onto a playground... Officer Guse running after him... puffs of smoke from the shootout. Officer Guse was grazed. And the driver, Deandre Wise got shot in the leg.

A Day in Milwaukee's Trauma-Informed Court: Parents Work to Regain Custody of Their Kids

May 23, 2016
Sara Stathas

In most courtrooms, the story of a defendant’s terrible childhood — what types of abuse or neglect may have prompted him or her to commit crimes — is often told at the very end of the court process when a judge decides which sentence to impose.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mary Triggiano, a leader in Wisconsin’s trauma-informed care movement, wants to know that story at the start. Deciding the disposition of a case “takes a lot more courage,” she said, “once you understand a person’s story and history.”

Focus on Traumatic Childhood Helps Victims Heal and Succeed

May 22, 2016
Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

The daughter of an alcoholic, abusive father, Tamra Oman remembers trying to protect her mother from his violent outbursts, even though she was not yet in kindergarten.

“I remember him choking her over the sink. Spitting out blood. Blooding coming out all over the place and landing on me,” Oman said, recounting one incident in her early childhood in Crown Point, Indiana. “I remember … trying to jump on top of him and save her."

“I can remember what I was wearing,” she continued. “That’s what trauma does. It also gets you stuck in those places.”

Emily Forman / Precious Lives

Hundreds of people turned out on Milwaukee’s north side Tuesday evening to honor Za’layia Jenkins on what would have been her tenth birthday. Earlier this month, a bullet struck her while she was watching TV; and on Monday, she died.

The shot was the result of a gun fight outside.

Friends and neighbors gathered on the front lawn of Za’layia Jenkins’ home near 15th and Meinecke. Many people held signs that read “Stop the Violence” and "Pray for Peace.”

Courtesy of the Marshall Family

Laura Richard Marshall and Greg Marshall moved from the Village of Cheneque in Waukesha County to raise their family in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood nine years ago. This dismayed some of their acquaintances, who couldn't get beyond the neighborhood’s crime statistics.

From the outside, it is easy to paint Sherman Park neighborhood with a broad brush. In the first five months the Marshalls lived in their new neighborhood, there were five shootings within an eight block radius of their home.

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