First in-state anti-crime program announced in Cohoes

COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new mentoring program aims to provide stepping stones for troubled teens and prevent them from committing a crime.

The program is a first if its kind in the state.

Judge Andra Ackerman developed the program to address what she says is a revolving door of young defendants in her courtroom. She says she has seen too many young defendants return to her courtroom and the odds stacked against them.

Ackerman envisioned a mentoring program to steer troubled teens from a life of crime.

The United Against Crime – Community Action Network, or U-CAN, begins this fall.

Defendants who plead guilty to misdemeanors in exchange for one year of interim probation will be matched up with a mentor. The mentor is a member of the community to meet with them once a week, giving them the support they may not get at home, helping troubled teens avoid a criminal record that could follow them for the rest of their life.

“They will get the structure that probation provides them but the structure doesn’t mean as much without the support you have.” Judge Ackerman said. “That mentor is going to provide them the support. They will be able to focus one on one with them, to ask the questions like what do you want to be when you grow up? And really care about that, help provide them options on what they need to do to get there.”

Many people already stepping up to plate and volunteering to be a mentor. Mayor Shawn Morse is one of them.

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