DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHERRY BOSTON CONGRATULATES 15 YOUNG ADULTS ON GRADUATION FROM DIVERSION PROGRAM
Innovative Program Seeks to Prevent Recidivism and Offer Second Chances
Decatur, Ga.- DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston is pleased to announce the graduation of 15 young adults from her office’s STRIDE pretrial diversion program.
STRIDE, which stands for Stopping Trends of Repeat Incarceration with Diversion and Education, is a voluntary diversion program that holds young adults accountable for serious non-violent crimes they have committed, while also ensuring their civic and career opportunities remain intact.
DA Boston and her team introduced STRIDE in 2019. Six participants graduated in the first cohort of the program in October 2020, and 12 participants graduated as part of the second cohort in April 2022.
“STRIDE allows young adults who make a mistake to learn from it without permanently damaging their future opportunities,” said DA Boston. “Our goal was to develop a program that reduces incarceration and interrupts the cycle of recidivism. Rather than label these young people as criminals, we have given them the opportunity to become role models and contributing members of our community.”
STRIDE participants must be 17-24 years old, reside in DeKalb County, and meet one of three requirements: the charge is out of guidelines for normal pretrial diversion; they have had prior contact with the justice system, including juvenile justice, or more than one felony pending; or they are a high risk for re-offending/lack supportive structures to complete pretrial diversion independently.
Participants pledge to remain crime-free and not possess weapons during the program, and they are required to take part in a series of interventions and educational opportunities. In exchange for successfully completing the program, the District Attorney will dismiss charges.
“We cannot continue to use the same approaches and expect different results,” said DA Boston. “STRIDE is a different approach, and it is yielding exciting results. Since our program began in 2020, more than 30 young adults have graduated with new job opportunities, fresh confidence in themselves, and a renewed sense of civic responsibility. I look forward to their future success.”
A ceremony for the 15 participants graduating from the third cohort of the STRIDE program took place on July 24, 2023, and featured a keynote address from DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.
“From time to time, we all mess up. We all get things wrong, and we all deserve a second chance…maybe even additional chances to get it right,” said Commissioner Bradshaw. “I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity that you’ve been given to go forth and accomplish great things.”
STRIDE graduate Jada*, 22, addressed her fellow graduates and their families at the ceremony.
“There once was a time where if you made a mistake just simply being a careless kid, the trajectory of your whole life could change in the blink of an eye,” Jada said.
“I thank everybody for helping us reclaim the best versions of ourselves. It’s truly amazing the roller coaster that life is. To watch a terrible moment, like being arrested, turn into such a beautiful moment like this is truly a gift,” she added.
Graduates successfully completed a 12-month program that encompassed several requirements including: monthly meetings; full-time work or school; cognitive behavioral counseling; community service; civic engagement; acts of restorative justice (restitution, letters of apology, etc.); and a book-based presentation.
STRIDE partners include RED, Inc., WorkSource DeKalb, American Alternative Court Services and Acivilate.
DA Boston’s Diversion and Community Alternatives Programs Unit encompasses alternatives to prosecution and treatment programs offered by the District Attorney’s Office and the Courts. The Unit creates and administers alternative solutions allowing our community to receive justice while still allowing non-violent defendants to maintain employability and positive community engagement. The Unit is led by Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Lisa Moultrie and is staffed by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Isaac Howard and Ashley Masset, and Case Manager Tina Padilla.
*Due to privacy concerns, record restriction guidelines and conditions associated with the STRIDE program, participant identification is being withheld.