Recipient of AFJ/Andrew Glover Youth Program’s Second Chance Award, 2010
In 2008, a timid girl stood to be sentenced by Judge Eduardo Padro in the Juvenile Offender Part of the New York State Supreme Court, terrified and astonished that a simple day out with friends had come to this.
Kristina Farrell, 14 years old at the time, had been arrested for and charged with Robbery in the Second Degree. In a classic example of negative peer pressure, Kristina had been hanging out with her best friend and another girl on the Lower East Side, when the other girl tried to steal a woman’s purse and ended up assaulting her. Kristina told the judge that she had tried to pull her friend away from the woman, but when the other girls bolted, Kristina followed them in panic. Passersby called police, who arrested all three girls a few blocks away.
It was the first time Kristina had been in trouble. The oldest of three sisters, Kristina was a good student with perfect attendance. Raised by her mother, Kristina took care of her younger sisters every day after school while her mother worked full time. As much as Kristina feared jail, she also feared her mother’s disappointment at how her daughter had gotten caught up in such a serious crime simply by hanging out with a bad pair of girls.
Although she faced serious prison time, Judge Padro adjudicated her with Youthful Offender status under the condition she be supervised by Avenues for Justice and participate in programs at AFJ's community center on the Lower East Side. For two years, two AFJ staff members, Nelson Valentine and Robert Arroyo, worked intensively with Kristina and her mother. To get her back on track, Nelson met with staff at Kristina’s school, matched her with a tutor, and lined up regular sessions with a social worker.
Now at Washington Irving High School, Kristina is a straight-A student who excels in science, math and history. She likes the art and writing classes offered at Glover and now keeps a daily journal. Working with a tutor at AFJ to prepare for the history Regents Exam (which she passed with flying colors), Kristina discovered her own exceptional talent as a writer. Kristina now aspires to be an ultrasonographer and is looking into local colleges.
Without Glover’s intervention, Kristina could have gone to jail as a result of hanging with the wrong crowd. Instead, she is happily on the path to a productive life.