By Nova Safo, CNN
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Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - Jason Smith is a juvenile probation officer in Chicago. His territory includes some of the most violent neighborhoods in the city.
But Smith doesn’t just work in the West side neighborhoods he patrols. He also lives there, and grew up there as well. Sixteen years ago, he was also a young offender on probation. Now, he hopes his experience and success out of the gang life can help inspire young people caught in the city’s escalating violence
Unlike Los Angeles and New York, Chicago has seen an increase in homicides recently. There have been 470 homicides and more than 2,200 shootings this year. Much of the violence is fueled by gangs and fights over drug turf, according to Chicago police.
[2:49] “Some kids who participate in the drug market, they’re not doing it for themselves, they’re doing it to provide for their family, to provide clothing that they need. It’s just a survival instinct,” Smith said.
Listen to the story above to hear our ride-along with Officer Smith, as he visits Chicago neighborhoods and the young offenders he is working to help.