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Sheriff's Office Innovative "Choose Your Path" Celebrates One Year of Programs

For Immediate Release


Strong, Evidenced-Based Program Aimed To End Recidivism ********

(Riverhead, NY) On Thursday, December 12th, 2019, Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. celebrated the success of the Choose Your Path Program for incarcerated young adults at the Riverhead Jail. The program reduced recidivism and is setting young people on a productive pathway upon release.

Sheriff Toulon addresses the celebration.

The Choose Your Path Program was initiated by Sheriff Toulon one year ago to meet the needs of the younger jail population. This innovative approach to incarceration was designed to prepare male inmates, 18-25 years old, for safe re-entry back into the community with skills and a mindset to be successful members of society. Sheriff Toulon stated, “These young men have often made bad decisions which have led them to their current situation in jail. We want to help them take responsibility for their choices, and ultimately, their paths in life. Instead of just warehousing these inmates, we are prioritizing rehabilitation and education, and transforming them into responsible members of society.” Speaking at the event, program inmate Alejandro, 25, told the attendees. “This program has given me hope in a justice system that I believed was broken beyond repair. I never hoped I could come out of jail a better man but I was wrong.” New York State recognizes adults as being 18 years of age; however, emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don't reach full maturity until the age 25. Over half of the young men that fit this age group who are released from jail return within three years. The Choose Your Path Program aims to break this cycle through responsibility and life skills. Inmates in the program live together in a pod in the Riverhead jail. What makes this program unique is that participants are afforded the opportunity to “choose their path” by not only learning what it takes to be a productive and reliable employee, but also by attending self-help groups provided such as AA, NA, HA, anger management, meditation, and Council For Unity. Educational services are provided by Eastern Suffolk BOCES, and various vocational programs include carpentry, custodial training, landscape design, food preparation/handling, small engine repair, dog handling, and facility maintenance. Each and every program focuses on the individual and provides him with the tools and skill sets necessary to succeed. Bob DeSena, founder of the Council of Unity, was proud to be a part of the Choose Your Path Program. “The Council for Unity enables inmates to take their masks off, share their tragedies, and heal, becoming functioning members of society as a result. The Council for Unity also provides free tuition and books through the Royal Learning Institute, providing training in healthcare, IT, and business.” Some of the service providers involved with the program include: Council for Unity Bellport Alliance Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Eastern Suffolk BOCES Family Service League EAC Mental Health Services “Circles” Long Island Dispute Resolutions Center Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous Department of Labor Thinking for a Change/ LTI Buffalo Wild Wings- Riverhead For more information on the Choose Your Path program, please visit

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