Replacing Handcuffs with Community Service


Diverting youth who have had trouble with the law to adult mentors and pro-social activities in their neighborhoods can help to reduce recidivism, according to a new report from the non-profit Community Connections for Youth.

The report followed 143 youth who were referred to the South Bronx Community Connections initiative between 2011 and 2013. The program pairs participants with adult mentors and other peers on community-improvement projects, while their parents were invited to participate in family strengthening activities.

If they complete 60 days in the program, their cases are closed and records sealed.

The report found that youths who participated in the program were “significantly less likely to be re-arrested than similarly situated peers.”

Between 2011 and 2013, 143 youths living in the South Bronx were referred to the program by police officers, probation officers or prosecutors; roughly half (77) were mandated to participate.

Referrals were primarily given to those who had been arrested on charges ranging from trespassing to assault, and were mostly first- or second-time offenders.

Nearly all (94 percent) of those who were mandated to participate successfully completed the program, according to the report.

More than 70 percent continued to participate voluntarily after their mandate was complete.

Read the full report HERE.

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