How do you offer this to your clients?
In order to be able to enter TCY there are some requirements and most of our clients are hand picked. Number one, they have to be arrested and charged with possessions and with intent to distribute some type of illegal substance. Number two they have to be male and female between the ages 18 and 24, however we have made some considerations for older clients if it was their first offence. The third criteria is it has to be their first offense they can not have a criminal record prior to this arrest and if they do it can only be of a misdemeanor of a non-violent nature. And then of course they have to be a resident of Philadelphia county. So those are the requirements for them to be able to be accepted into TCY.
Are there other programs like yours across the country?
TCY was one of two programs in the country that were designated for first time nonviolent drug offenders to be able to get their cases dismissed and eventually expunged. We were a spinoff from a model that was developed in San Francisco with the initial program of this type was developed. It was also developed through their district attorney that was in office at the time back in 2009. At that time, I do know that when TCY initiated and first came on board in 2012, we were one of two programs that were actually allowing felony, convicted or felony people that would charge with felonies able to actually get their cases dismissed and their records expunged. I do know that since 2012, the city of Philadelphia has now through the District Attorney’s office, has now developed a program called Fast Forward, which is allowing people who have been arrested and charged with felonies to skip the trial process and take that program, but that program is strictly for individuals who have a high school diploma and that are pursuing some type of secondary education. The premise for that program is that if they enroll in the Community College of Philadelphia, they have to graduate with the assistance financially, through the District Attorney’s office. And if they graduate with a certain grade point average, their cases will be dismissed and eventually expunged. In the city of Philadelphia, there is another program that is called the Drug Court Treatment program, and that is for people who have had more offenses, so they’ve had a larger number of offenses than our clients, and they could have some type of addiction problems or issues. So, instead of incarcerating them, they’re putting them into a program where treatment is court mandated. So our clients really haven’t made it to the point where they would need Drug Court Treatment program. So our district attorney from Philadelphia went out to San Francisco and spent time with the District Attorney out there, and was able to get the model and come back and develop it here to implement it in 2012.