A new pilot program in New York, tentatively called Project Reset, will offer first-time low-level teenage offenders a deal: Enter a counseling program run by the Center for Court Innovation and the charges will be dropped before arraignment.
Project Reset hopes to build on the success of a 2013 diversion program for teens in the Brooklyn arraignment court, which diverted more than 160 teens charged with minor crimes into counseling in its first year.
The goal of the new program is to intervene even earlier than the 2013 program and offer first-time offenders an opportunity to go to counseling before they appear in court. Additionally, Project Reset can help divert teens from the criminal justice system, as New York is one of the few states that charge 16 and 17 year olds as adults.
Eligible youth will be required to go to two afternoon sessions of counseling at community justice centers—leaving them with no criminal record upon completion of the sessions.
Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is an advocate of diverting teens to counseling, stating that “a young person who had done nothing more serious than fail to pay a subway fare should not receive a trip downtown and a docket number, but a real intervention in his life, to put him on a positive path forward.”
There is a growing effort in New York to reduce the number of low-level offenders “clogging the courts,” as reported by the New York Times:
“[Brooklyn district attorney] Kenneth P. Thompson announced last year that his office would no longer prosecute misdemeanor marijuana cases. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton has sharply curtailed the practice of stopping pedestrians and frisking them for weapons and drugs in high-crime neighborhoods, which critics maintain discriminates against minorities.”
The program will start next month in two police precincts—the 25th on the Upper West Side and the 73rd in Brownsville, Brooklyn—and will be evaluated after three to six months.
Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform