During his tenure as a judge in the Village of West Haverstraw, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe created and implemented an innovative program designed to maximize the number of at-risk students who chose to successfully complete their studies. By partnering with the North Rockland Central School District, then Judge Zugibe linked the adjudication of juvenile offenses to improved school performance and conduct, seeking to divert youthful offenders from the criminal justice system.
Since 2008, the Zugibe Administration has forged partnerships with all public school districts in Rockland County, as well as all justice court judges and police chiefs, to expand the highly-successful High School Intervention and Diversion Program (IDP) to every local courtroom.
IDP works with 16 to 21-year-old high school students who are charged with nonviolent, low-level crimes. Once before the local magistrate, the high school student is court-ordered to meet with a designated school administrator with a parent or guardian. The court mandates that the student follow all requirements of the school administrator and will receive regular progress reports from the school.
If the student meets all requirements, the charges are adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.
The goal of IDP is to facilitate the successful completion of high school by those students who are facing personal, behavioral and legal problems. Moreover, IDP seeks to engage school administrators in the official supervision of those students who are under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Justice System and who have demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with school rules and regulations.
The Zugibe Administration believes an investment now to stabilize the lives of at-risk teens is a small cost compared to the financial burden that will be imposed if they remain in the criminal justice system.