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The Solution to Ending the Disease of Violence is Living Alive & Free

By Joseph E. Marshall, Jr. PhD

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Alive & Free



Question—What if we could create a world where we all understood that violence is not the answer?


Alive & Free seeks to communicate to the world that violence is preventable, conflict can be reduced, and lives can absolutely be saved.


This is the vision. A world without violence. A world without incarceration. A world where all people, especially the young are safe, healthy, hopeful and thriving.


This is the mission. Keep young people Alive and unharmed by violence and Free from incarceration and to provide them with opportunity and support to build positive lives for themselves and to their community.


This is the commitment. To share the prescription for addressing the disease of violence by training and developing a field of practioners who apply the medicine to their own lives and educate and elevate the next generation to carry the cure and spread the message until we are all Alive & Free.


So how do we achieve this goal? By teaching, learning and living the Alive & Free Prescription.


In 1987, Jack Jacqua and I co-founded Alive & Free/Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, CA. We were public school educators who were concerned about the number of young people dropping out of school and becoming involved with gangs and drugs. Through our day-to-day work with youth, we identified violence as a public health issue, and developed a prescriptive approach to helping youth move from the culture of violence to safer, more productive lives. The key to Alive & Free’s success with young people is the unique methodology-the Alive & Free Prescription.


The Alive & Free Prescription operates on the principle that violence is a disease with an explicit treatment process. The Prescription identifies and addresses the symptomatic thinking that puts young people at risk (the Commandments of Violence), the actions that put young people at risk for violence (the Risk Factors), the feelings and emotions that contribute to violent and/or destructive behavior (the Emotional Residue of Anger, Fear, and Pain), and introduces the Rules for Living that promote positive lifestyle choices. Young people who learn the Alive & Free Prescription have a new set of life skills that help them reduce and eliminate the risk of engaging in violent behavior and move toward a future of wholeness and well-being.


The Alive & Free Prescription has deep roots in the City of Seattle and King County. Since first training the YMCA Alive & Free program in 1999, over 10,000 young people have been exposed to the Prescription. In 2010 we held an Alive & Free Conference with over 300 Seattle Public School students and over 600 adults who work with and support youth throughout the region. Since that time numerous other organizations, educators and individuals have attended the Alive & Free training and added the methodology to their own youth work.


In January 2022 we proudly trained the next generation of leaders with the Regional Peacekeepers Collective, 36 people who worked together for four days-deepening their own commitment to living an Alive & Free lifestyle and honing their skills to help teach the youth the Prescription. Seattle and King County know that Alive & Free is a key solution to ending the disease of violence and the commitment to saving lives in the region is powerful. We know that the Prescription works and that by sharing the knowledge, we are giving young people the best chance to live full and whole lives. The motto of Alive & Free is “The more you know, the more you owe” and we believe that the investment in the workers and young people in Seattle and King County can and will yield life affirming results.


I began with a question-- What if we could create a world where we all understood that violence is not the answer? We can and we are…. And ALL of us can be a part of the solution by living Alive & Free.




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