January 13, 2022

Meet AFJ Participant: Destiny

In 2019, at the age of 20, Destiny was facing up to three years in state prison for a felony Grand Larceny charge. Since she was over the age of 18, her case was not eligible to be processed in Family Court. The presiding judge on Destiny's case recognized that she could benefit from an alternative to incarceration (ATI) program and connected Destiny and her attorney to Avenues for Justice (AFJ).

When Destiny was initially intaked as a new participant at AFJ, she was only required by the court to check in with her Court Advocate, Elsie, each evening for curfew. However, after additional re-arrests, both Elsie and Destiny’s presiding judge agreed that Destiny would benefit greatly from the wraparound services offered at AFJ and tightened the reins on her mandate.

From the minute Destiny had entered high school, she knew that there was something special about her. Her peers gravitated towards her and she excelled in science, math and art. By the end of the 10th grade, Destiny had earned enough credits to graduate two years ahead of schedule. But despite succeeding academically, she did not enjoy schooling in the traditional sense. She preferred to learn at her own pace. After graduating early, she applied to college and tried going twice, but decided both times that she wasn’t emotionally ready.

After Destiny was rearrested, she was required to come to AFJ’s Lower East Side community center four times a week for workshops, mentoring and attend weekly individual therapy sessions. At first, Destiny objected to the new structure, just as she had opposed the structure in school. But within a few months, she appreciated the safe space that the community center provided her and her peers, and enjoyed the weekly workshops like Teen Empowerment podcasting class and Cooking. During her therapy sessions, Destiny made breakthroughs in processing and understanding her childhood trauma.

One of the conditions of her court mandate was that she remain employed for the duration of her time at AFJ. Destiny maintained employment for over two years as a floor salesperson at Foot Locker. She understood that the job was stepping stone to bigger opportunities, and was proud of herself for maintaining steady employment.

At the beginning of this month, Destiny and Elsie walked into the courtroom for her final sentencing. The judge acknowledged her incredible progress while at AFJ. Instead of the three years of prison time she was facing, the judge sentenced her to five years of probation. In a year's time, Destiny will be eligible for consideration by the court for her probation to be reduced by two years. She is optimistic that the next time she sees the judge, she’ll have positive progress letters from both AFJ and her Probation Officer.

Just recently, Destiny was hired as a traveling medical assistant and is excited to embark on the next chapter of her life. She looks forward to sharing her progress at work with Elsie.

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