Given opportunity to reform, BRAVE target now faces jail

Devontae Lee had a numerous chances to change his ways, prosecutors say.

In 2011, he was sentenced to four years for a break-in.

Then he was called in by the BRAVE anti-crime project and offered counseling as well as a stern warning.

But, Lee, while on parole for the break-in, was arrested in October 2013 for carrying a gun as a felon.

Now, the 21-year-old Baton Rouge man has been sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison for carrying the reportedly stolen handgun.

On Wednesday, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson sentenced Lee to 4½ years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a release.

Last week, a state judge sentenced Lee to 10 years for the same crime, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

Prosecutors say Lee had many chances to turn his life around. He took part in the BRAVE Project’s first call-in session in April 2013, during which authorities gathered several high-risk Baton Rouge residents and told them that they needed to turn their lives around. Police also warned of harsh penalties if they did not listen.

“We wanted them to get another chance and they didn’t heed the warning,” Moore said of those who attend the BRAVE call-in but get in further trouble later. “Every time that happens, our community fails.

“In this case,” Moore said, Lee “showed that he did not want to listen to the message.”

State and federal courts do not usually convict someone of the same crime, but prosecutors sought a harsher sentence because Lee had already been warned of the risks of criminal activity, the district attorney said.

BRAVE is a data-driven crime-fighting initiative aimed at reducing gang violence by targeting and trying to warn those most at risk. The project both presents the risks of violence to high-risk residents and imposes quick and forceful legal penalties for those who are convicted of more crimes after the warnings.