YOUTH DIVERSION PROGRAMS
Back on Track is a youth diversion program focused on prevention. It is one of the 24 ReStart Academies established by the NYC Department of Education within its District 79.
Back on Track serves primarily over-age, under-credited students who are currently enrolled in the 8th grade and looking to move on to high school. Students are often referred by a school, through the submission of an application, but parents may also make a referral. For one academic year, students receive intense academic instruction, counseling and other support, as well as curriculum-enhancing programs through various partners. Students must comply with a code of conduct or risk dismissal from Back on Track.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office contributes two program administrators and two social workers to the Back on Track staff, which also includes an assistant principal, three teachers, one guidance counselor, one paraprofessional, and two undergraduate social work interns.
During this 2014-15 academic year, the ratio of students to teachers at Back On Track has been approximately 11:1 across three classrooms. Students learn in an intimate and intense environment – and they get the help they need from a dedicated staff.
We know this model will work for our children. In the 2013-14 academic year, Back On Track students reached a 95% attendance rate, their collective grades averaged above B, and every student was promoted to high school. In sum, Back On Track outperformed many other middle schools. This year, Back On Track students will do even better!
To refer a school or parent to Back on Track, you can contact Eric Smith or Nicole Barron-Brown at 347-853-0680 (Eric) or 347-971-2010 (Nicole).
Project Re-Direct is an “alternative-to-incarceration” program for young men ages 14 to 22, who, for the first time, are facing a felony charge, and who have been gang involved and may have been in possession of a firearm. This “second chance opportunity” can result in a dismissal of the charges against the participant, if the participant successfully completes the Project Re-Direct program. Failure to complete the program can result in a prison sentence.
Project Re-Direct participants plead guilty up front and sentencing is deferred during program participation. Participants are required to change their perspective and behavior by embracing the rigorous 18- to 24-month program. The program includes wearing an ankle bracelet with GPS tracking, and strict adherence to a set of program rules, including a dress code, a detailed schedule, regular communication with staff, attendance at counseling sessions, random drug testing, education, and/or employment.
Candidates are referred by a judge or by an assistant district attorney, and then are carefully screened by the office’s Project Re-Direct legal and social work staff.
YCP (Youth & Congregations in Partnership) is an “alternative-to-incarceration” program for young men and women ages 13 to 22, who, for the first time, have been charged with a felony, and who have no previous pattern of violent crimes, have no serious mental illness, and have not been charged with any sex offense. This “second chance opportunity” can result in a reduction of the charges against the participant — or even dismissal of the charges — if the participant successfully completes the program. Failure to complete the program can result in a prison sentence.
YCP participants plead guilty to the top charge and sentencing is deferred during program participation. Participants understand that they must comply with YCP rules or risk removal from the program – and possibly, years in prison.
YCP participants are required to change their perspective and behavior by embracing the rigorous 12-month program. The program includes adherence to a schedule, regular communication with staff, community service, individual on-site counseling, and education or employment, or both, and possible work with a mentor, in addition to any other requirements imposed by the court.
Candidates for YCP are referred by a judge or by an assistant district attorney, and sometimes the NYC Department of Probation’s Family Court Unit. Candidates who meet basic program criteria are screened by experienced assistant district attorneys and a social worker. If a candidate is initially approved, a full intake assessment takes place, including interviews with the candidate, his/her relevant family members, and other relevant adults, as well as home, school or other site visits, as necessary. When the assessment is complete, a final determination regarding whether to include the candidate in YCP is made.
The Educational Programs Unit manages programs that are designed to increase public safety and help Brooklyn residents further develop collaborative and proactive responses to community concerns. The unit works with educators, parents/guardians, attorneys, students, and all those concerned with promoting safety and justice in Brooklyn. The unit is a conduit for placing assistant district attorneys and other district attorney staff within schools and in other settings to present information on a variety of topics. Topics covered include anti-bullying, elder abuse prevention, elder fraud prevention, gang awareness, immigration, human trafficking, and domestic violence.
For more information, please email EdPrograms@BrooklynDa.org.