Educational Program For Formerly-Incarcerated, At Medgar Evers

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Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York and the Kings County District Attorney's Office have announced a new partnership to provide educational support for the formerly incarcerated and those at risk of incarceration.

The Community Justice Program, which pairs Medgar Evers' strong academic programs in social work and related disciplines with District Attorney Charles J. Hynes' nationally recognized re-entry and diversion programs, includes an array of initiatives, internships and courses that create opportunities for students and the formerly incarcerated.

District Attorney Hynes called the collaborative program ground-breaking. "This will be a great service to the formerly incarcerated and contribute to the health and safety of the entire community," he said.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to gain experience in this field through internships coordinated with the districrsrt attorney's office, and it's a great opportunity for those who are being released from incarceration to re-enter society, find a job, and obtain skills needed for college," said Medgar Evers President William L. Pollard.

CUNY is providing planning and development funds to help seed the program, which will include appeals to foundations and other external sources for support. The new partnership would afford Medgar Evers students with internship opportunities within the District Attorney's Office and the courts in Brooklyn to assist the formerly incarcerated with educational resources for re-entry and diversion programs. Students studying economics, for example, would help the formerly incarcerated with job skills and job development; other students preparing for careers in social work would intern to assist with crime victims and non-violent offenders in diversion programs and treatment courts.

In conjunction with the District Attorney's office, new courses, seminars, symposia and even degree programs on diversion and re-entry programs would be developed. Inter-disciplinary academic programming is also under consideration, according to College Provost Howard Johnson and First Assistant District Attorney Anne J. Swern, an expert in the field who also is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School.

The Community Justice Program envisions reading and/or literacy workshops for youth at risk, mentoring programs, GED training, programs connected to the CUNY Black Male Initiative, which focuses on at-risk populations, community outreach programs that connect to local resources and education for crime victims.  Additionally, it is hoped that the new partnership will serve as a model for other CUNY campuses and elsewhere.

The Community Justice Program joins a number of innovative programs created by D.A. Hynes. Started in 1999, ComALERT (Community and Law Enforcement Resources Together), helps formerly incarcerated Brooklynites make a successful transition from prison to home by providing drug treatment and counseling, mental health treatment and counseling, GED and transitional housing and employment.

Gender Responsive Assistance Support Project (GRASP) is a re-entry initiative for young women established by D.A. Hynes in partnership with the Office of Children and Family Services, and the Department of Corrections.  It seeks to provide comprehensive services, including mentoring, for high-risk and court-involved girls who are or were placed with the Office of Children and Family Services and other placement or correctional facilities.

Additionally, D.A. Hynes has developed diversion programs for addicted and mentally ill non violent offenders and veterans and youth at risk.

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