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DA Soares Announces Criminal Justice Reform Efforts in Albany County

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Albany County District Attorney David Soares

 

 

Building Hope Community Event

  June 6, 2017

 

 

 

  
 

 

ALBANY, NY - District Attorney P. David Soares announced a new series of criminal justice reforms today in Albany County. Surrounded by supporters and community volunteers in the program, DA Soares detailed reform efforts that expand the current alternative to incarceration programs run by the DA’s Community Justice and Outreach Office. The initiative publically announced today, entitled “Clean Slate,” addresses crimes committed by young adults. The initiative includes programs and policies that are specific to the experience of offenders at various phases of life.

“Since taking office I have seen the same types of crimes being committed by young adults in the same age group, year in and year out,” commented DA Soares. “I also see the impact that a criminal felony conviction can have, even if the act was non-violent and occurred when the offender was a young adult. While the State has passed legislation to address the impact of youth crime, there is still a delay before many of those efforts will take effect. For over a year, my office has implemented policy changes right here in Albany County to help young adult offenders charged with non-violent offenses avoid criminal convictions and time in State Prison. Instead, with the “Clean Slate” model they can take accountability for criminal wrongdoing, repair harm to any victimized party, and become contributing members of community. The initiative also includes the goals of streamlining the services and processes associated with re-entry and expungement efforts. But where my policy changes and control over the District Attorney’s involvement in the court process end, community action must begin. In order to evolve, we must involve.”

The first initiative in the “Clean Slate” program focuses on the diversion of non-violent felony offenses committed by young adults at the time of initial prosecution. With the goal of reverse engineering the flow of young offenders away from a criminal conviction, the “Reclamation” Felony Youth Diversion Program will be eligible as a case resolution option for young adults age 16 to 24 charged with certain non-violent felony offenses. A panel of community members sit on a Diversion Board, and eligible participants will be offered the opportunity to take accountability for criminal wrongdoing, repair harm to any victimized party, and become contributing members of the community - without a felony criminal conviction or time served in State Prison. There are currently 9 participants in our Reclamation pilot program, which has been in operation since January 2016. The current participants in our pilot program range in age from 17- 21 and each participant has an individualized plan for success. We plan to continue this effort after the official implementation of “Raise the Age” in October 2018, when at that time offenders aged 16 and 17 will appear before a special Youth Part. At that time our Clean Slate model will continue to operate with offenders age 18 through 24.

The second initiative in the “Clean Slate” program focuses on the resources and services available to individuals re-entering the community after a period of incarceration. The “Re-Entry” efforts of the District Attorney’s office involve collaboration with community agencies to promote resources and services to formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Doors at our Outreach Office at 155 Clinton Avenue are open for community members to use computers to type and send resumes and search for employment.

The third initiative in the “Clean Slate” program focuses on real-world strategies to eliminate the stigma associated with a felony conviction. “Redemption” expungement efforts aim to clear records of criminal convictions for non-violent or low-level offenders who have shown positive rehabilitation. Efforts to reach this goal are ongoing and will be a vital piece of the "Clean Slate" model. The word expungement itself means to "erase or remove completely." As part of the reform efforts passed as part of the state budget, a formal process will be developed by the Courts in October 2017. Until that time our office will continue expungement efforts under CPL § 440.10.

While these exciting reform efforts are off to a promising start, one thing has been made plainly evident – they will only succeed with the support of community volunteers. At this time we ask for community members and agencies to join us in our mission. We are actively seeking community volunteers to sit on our Diversion Board, to assist with youth mentoring, and to aid our case management process with local youth programming needs.

Those interested in volunteering to support our mission can learn more by clicking on the “Clean Slate” icon on www.albanycountyda.com or emailing us at [email protected]


For more information please contact Cecilia Walsh at (518) 275-4710 or [email protected]

 

 

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