Program works to keep youths out of prison

Aug 27, 2014

An effective "alternative to incarceration" program for young people has received some much needed funding from Albany. 

New York's Division of Criminal Justice has awarded $100,000 grant to the "First Time/Last Time" program. Director Susan Croglio says each year they provide counseling to more than 200 youths between the ages of  16 and 21 who become involved in the criminal justice system.

Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

Croglio says the primary areas addressed include education.

"Whether the young person is engaged in traditional education or requires a GED referral. If the young person has an issue with drug or alcohol we make certain that referral is set in motion," Croglio said.

"If the young person does not have a home or a residence that's safe we make certain that that happens."

Counselors also assist with court-related matters and help clients set goals for the future.

The program is part of the National Federation for Just Communities. Its Co-Chair Amy Habib Rittling says  "90 percent of those who have participated in the program (FirstTime/Last Time) are living incredibly successful productive lives."

Croglio says most clients find out about the help that's available through referrals in county courts, probation officers and private attorneys and " ironically through assistant district attorneys."
According to Croglio, the program saves taxpayers about $160 a day, per person, compared to incarceration.