Young people in Mount Vernon transform lives through Youth Shelter Program

A collaborative approach to the criminal justice system in Mount Vernon is proving to be successful in fighting the root causes of crime and preventing re-offenses, particularly among teens and young adults.

Jonathan Gordon

Nov 3, 2022, 10:49 AM

Updated 571 days ago

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A rise in crime and the merits of bail reform have become major political talking points in the walkup to next Tuesday's midterm election.
But a collaborative approach to the criminal justice system in Mount Vernon is proving to be successful in fighting the root causes of crime and preventing re-offenses, particularly among teens and young adults.
"Think about young people in this holistic kind of approach. To really deal with them beyond the nature of their crime, but really as individuals in need of support and proper interventions," said Joanne Dunn, executive director of the Youth Shelter of Westchester.
The city highlighted its partnership with the Youth Shelter of Westchester Wednesday evening by recognizing a dozen young people who completed the alternative to incarceration residential and emerging adult justice programs.
"These young people have committed themselves to do the work so they can be better off and better people," said Dunn.
The initiatives allow some offenders between the ages of 18 and 25 to resolve their criminal cases by providing them with resources instead of jail time.
The Emerging Adult Justice Initiative has seen great success over the last two years, with the Youth Shelter serving as the lead agency to coordinate services and case management for those enrolled.
"We have to see who they are, we have to see how they got here, and how we can break the cycle," said Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard.
Most people who participate spend at least a year in the shelter and are offered schooling, job training, and housing opportunities so they are productive members of society in the end.
Jazmine Cabrera was among those recognized on Wednesday. She said the program changed her perspective on life and will help make her reintegration into the community much more manageable.
"Coming into this program taught me that it's not just negative; it's something positive out there," said Jasmine Cabrera.
The program has a record of keeping people from reoffending and breaking the prison pipeline.
The city is open to helping other organizations and municipalities launch their similar programs to improve public safety.


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