Breaking the cycle of crime for young adults

Derek Freeman made the most of NYC Justice Corp.

The New York Times has a “must read” profile of a program, called the NYC Justice Corps, that helps young people break the cycle of crime and incarceration. The piece, by Kareem Fahim, has audio clips with several young people who discuss their recidivism and how they broke that cycle through training and work.

“I came here sick,” said Mr. Freeman, who has a drug-dealing conviction and was one of the first participants in the program, called the NYC Justice Corps. He was disrespectful when he arrived and was almost thrown out of the program, he said. But now, Mr. Freeman is leading a team of young men who are weatherizing a nearby home. “The work is good work,” he said.

NYC Justice Corp. stands out compared to other job-training programs because it trains participants for jobs in a field that is likely to expand–what becoming known as “green collar” jobs.

Susan Tucker, who helped conceive the program and who is the director of the After Prison Initiative at the Open Society Institute, said the focus on emerging sectors like energy efficiency contrasted with the “uninspiring” nature of many post-prison programs, where people released from jail “get training for jobs that don’t exist or that they’re barred from holding.”

About Sandeep Junnarkar

Sandeep Junnarkar is the founder and editorial director of Family Lives Behind Bars.