JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – While law enforcement is calling for the youth to stop the violence, a Jackson man is working to mentor some of the capital city’s troubled teens.

“Heartbreaking to see these kids laid out lifeless on these streets,” said Jackson Police Chief James Davis. “We don’t have the answers. we do not have those answers. and they’re multiplying. Every week we have youth dying on the streets of Jackson, and they’re getting younger and younger,” Chief Davis continued.

D’Marius Jones was shot 22 times when he was just 16-years-old. Now, he has turned his life around. Jones is using his story to help teens in Jackson turn their lives around before it’s too late.

“My youth being in Jackson, you’re automatically exposed to a lot. My family did the best they could to shield me from it, but when everything is right outside your door, you have to be strong willed,” said Jones.

At just 16-years-old, he was shot 22 times while attempting to rob a bank. While incarcerated, he wrote a book called 22 Blessings. Now he is a college student. Jones says he originally turned to a life of crime, because he did not see his own potential in life.

“I once took life for granted, because I didn’t think I had purpose. They have no way of expressing themselves so it comes out as violence,” said Jones.

This is an issue that Jackson Police Chief James Davis says happens often. He says if the youth don’t have a positive role model to uplift them, it makes them more susceptible to joining a gang.

“All they want is love. they’re looking for momma, daddy, brother, sister, brother, big momma, somebody to love them. If we don’t get out here and love our kids, guess who’s looking for them? The dope boys. The gang members,” said Chief Davis.

Jones now goes out and talks to the youth, even some who are behind bars. He hopes to keep them from going down the same path he did just five years ago.

“I do feel like they internalize it more because I am my age. I’m 21. Everything that has happened to me, has happened in recent years. I look like them, and when I look at them, I see myself. So I think it does hit different coming from me,” said Jones.

While city leaders search for short and long term solutions to Jackson’s crime crisis, Jones says he has a few ideas that may have helped him before he made some of the same mistakes that teens in the capital city are making now.

“Let’s give them trades. Let’s give them something to strive for other than being professional athletes and rappers. It’s good to do because I also do music, but everybody is not going to be able to rap for a career. Give them something to be passionate about rather it’s barbers or electricians. We have so many good men in the city but we need to be able to reach the kids,” said Jones.

Overall Jones says mentorship is one of the best short term solutions to keeping teens out of crime in Jackson. He says mentors have to make a consistent effort for the teens to be able to relate to them and really listen to their advice.

At a town hall on Wednesday, May 11, Chief Davis recommended that the city invest more into community groups that mentor the youth.