ASK THE DA: Program gives gang offenders second chance
Gang violence appears to be on the rise in our communities. What is your office doing to address this problem?
In response to the gang violence that is impacting our cities, in 2007 I created “Project Re-Direct,” the first New York State prosecutor’s alternative to incarceration program for gang members. The focus is on each of the individual gang member’s needs, and redirecting them from the gangster lifestyle to that of law-abiding valued members of our community.
Project Re-Direct incorporates diversion, education and prosecution. The successful completion of the program results in a dismissal of criminal charges.
Each participant spends a minimum of six months wearing a GPS ankle bracelet to ensure that they are compliant with their curfew and other mandates of the program. Each must re-enter school or enter and graduate from a GED program.
I tell successful graduates that being in a gang guaranteed that they would end up in prison, the hospital or the cemetery. When participants leave Project Re-Direct they are ready to take their place in the world as contributing members of their communities and families.
Earlier this month, I announced that State Senator Martin Golden awarded Project Re-Direct $53,000 in public protection funds that will support and enable the program to expand. It is my hope that the success of Project Re-Direct will encourage other jurisdictions to try this initiative which has such a positive impact on public safety.
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