The Choice is Yours (TCY) is an innovative alternative to incarceration program that diverts non-violent felony drug offenders away from prison and toward positive social services and support. TCY strives to reduce recidivism rates and address the problem of prison overcrowding without compromising public safety. In partnership with Jewish Employment and Vocational Services (JEVS), TCY's goals are to: (1) reduce the likelihood of recidivism among TCY participants; (2) reduce state and city costs by cutting the number of trials among the TCY target population; (3) reduce costs associated with pre-trial and post-trial incarceration; and (4) provide participants with the skills and training necessary to become productive, employable individuals without the stigma of a criminal conviction.
The TCY program primarily targets first-time felony drug offenders charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID). The District Attorney's Office has sole discretion in approving or rejecting a defendant's participation in TCY. Participants engage in a variety of activities, including: job readiness training (resume preparation, networking skills, interviewing and job search), computer classes, education and skills training (GED, college and technical classes), community service, job placement and advancement, mentoring from community members, and regular check-ins (progress listings) with the TCY judge.
Recognizing its success, additional funding was secured through the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge enabling additional participants the opportunity to enroll in the program.