Today Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco presented Certificates of Appreciation to four students at the Riverhead Eastern Suffolk BOCES Culinary Arts Program, along with their instructor, Chef Thomas Hashagen. He also presented a proclamation to Barbara Egloff, a Divisional Administrator for BOCES and a member of the Sheriff’s Youth Reentry Task Force.
The group was honored for their work on the “Dine and Discuss Initiative”, which provides parents of current and former incarcerated youth an opportunity to meet with members of the Sheriff’s staff, correction officers from the county jail, and educators to discuss their concerns and how to best help their children be successful when they are released from jail. The culinary arts students, under the direction of their instructor, volunteer to prepare dinner for the group during the monthly meetings. The program was initiated by Barbara Egloff, who has spearheaded educational reforms at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility during the last two years.
“This is a unique program which brings together parents of incarcerated young people, many of whom have drug addictions, with officers in our jail and members of the non-profit and treatment community, to help guide them as they bring their children back home. When a young person spends time in jail for committing crimes in the community, we do our best to rehabilitate them while we have their attention, but we realize that families need support as well,” stated DeMarco.
Sheriff DeMarco launched the Youth Tier Initiative at the county jail in September 2011 to provide intensive mentoring, educational service and life skills to incarcerated youth between the ages of 16-19. The program has graduated 115 participants since its inception, and it has proven to reduce recidivism among the youth participating. As of March, recidivism has dropped to less than 10% for youth who went through the program during their period of incarceration.
“The Youth Tier Initiative, combined with innovative court-based programs, has made a tremendous impact on our jail population. In 2011, the jail had an average of 80-100 incarcerated 16-19 year olds on any given day. Today, we have less than thirty on any given day. Eastern Suffolk BOCES is a big part of our success,” added DeMarco.