Tribune Staff Writer: Brian Saunders | March 28, 2022
Kareem Walton began to speak on a conference call, recalling a moment that changed his life. Walton was a part of a diversion program, The Choice is Yours, through JEVS Human Services. He stopped to get some food on a particular afternoon, making him late for the program. While Walton showed up, he was not taking the program seriously.
That’s when Nigel Bowe, Director of Diversion and Re-entry at JEVS, scolded him for being tardy.
“One day, he came over late, he stopped at McDonald’s and got something to eat and destroyed it in class,” Bowe said. “I jumped on him about it. Right, that day I saw a 180-degree turnaround. And I think he made up his mind that he needed to take the program seriously. I think he thought he had an opportunity that would set him up for life if he took advantage of it. And so everything I asked him to do and expected of him was right in line and then compliant. He had positive reports every time he went to court.”
The Choice is Yours program celebrates 10 years of work, offering first-time drug offenders ages 18-30 an alternative to going before a judge.
According to JEVS, “participants join an orientation that allows them to join the one-year program if successfully completed. The program offers a variety of employment, education and life-skills activities and requires community service. In addition, program graduates are eligible to have their records expunged a year after they graduate from the program if there have been no further arrests and all fees are paid.”
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