Four participants of the Young Adult Court (YAC) celebrated a milestone April 26 with a graduation ceremony. They were recognized at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco following COVID-19 protocols for attendees.

 

Speaking to his YAC cohorts at the ceremony, which was also broadcast via Zoom, one graduate shared, “This program has taught me more responsibility, not just for myself, but also for others. I learned how to deal with life and that if you communicate, everything will work out.”

Through the combined efforts of Judge Bruce Chan representing the Superior Court, the Office of the Public Defender, Office of the District Attorney, Adult Probation Department, Goodwill Industries, and Felton Institute, the program was launched in 2015 as YAC. The program is a continuation of the 2005 “Back on Track,” program created by former San Francisco District Attorney, now U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris.

Young adults, 18-25 years of age, who have charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony may be eligible for the criminal justice reform program. Felton clinicians provide intensive, comprehensive case management, life skills training, and clinical interventions on behalf of program participants.

“We’re all so proud of you; very grateful for all of the effort that you put in,” said Judge Bruce Chan in a commencement message to the graduates. “And I have mixed feelings today between happiness for you and sadness to see you go, because like the old song, I’ve grown accustomed to your face.”

He reminded graduates that the program represents the first step in restarting the life that each personally envisioned. He said, “All of you have talked about choosing a healthier community of people to spend time with. Making better choices and thinking about where you are today, where you were, and more importantly, where you want to be tomorrow.”

To date, 134 young adults have graduated from the YAC program.

This year’s cohort boasts many success stories. One graduate was praised for his diligence and hard work, completing a sobriety program while homeless, and landing a full-time job. Another teen graduate completed the program as she parented her young daughter. All YAC graduates successfully had their criminal records expunged.

Young Adult Court is based on scientific research that the adolescent brain is continually rewiring itself, making new connections, and pruning unnecessary neurons. In the program, Felton Institute serves transitional-age youth (TAY) ages 18-25 who have committed crimes, have experienced trauma, substance abuse and may have recurring disorders. These young clients are deemed at high risk to re-offend in the community. The program meets the unique needs of TAY and helps them onto a positive developmental pathway into adulthood and ending the cycle of incarceration and poverty.

For more information about Felton’s Young Adult Court Program, please visit the YAC Program Page or email Dr. Robin Ortiz at rortiz@felton.org.

 


About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.

Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult, and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties. Felton’s social services and programs utilize the latest scientific research, combining cultural sensitivity, deep respect for client and staff, and a commitment to social justice.

Felton is the oldest non-sectarian and nonprofit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. For over a century, Felton Institute has been at the forefront of social service innovation, pioneering new approaches to meet underserved populations’ emerging needs. At the heart of our work is the belief that individuals and families in crisis must have access to services and resources to help them build on their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org