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Parenti initially plans to target 18-21 year olds as this is the age group when violent behaviour is most commonly exhibited. He is known to the West Baltimore church deacon who puts him in touch with retired police officer Howard Colvin. Parenti is interested in meeting Colvin because he is well known around campus for his last action in the police department – a program of drug tolerant zones that significantly reduced crime in his district. Colvin takes a salaried position to assist Parenti with his study. Colvin convinces Parenti to target younger age groups by showing him that violent behaviour is entrenched in 18-21 year olds through a visit to his old district.
Colvin and Parenti decide to focus on eighth grade middle school children and approach the Edward Tilghman middle school with their program. The principal, Claudell Withers, agrees to let them separate children with behavioural difficulties into their own class where they can be targeted and studied. Parenti also gets approval from the education department on Baltimore’s East Avenue on the condition that his program does not make any headlines.
With the assistance of eighth grade head teacher Grace Sampson and assistant principal Marcia Donnelly he selects a class of ten students. Colvin refers to their target group as "corner kids". They hire a class teacher and assistant to deal with the students. Parenti is fasciniated by the behaviour exhibited by his students.