Now, a brush with the law might end with a brush in the hand.
Begun as a pilot program for teens in 2015, Project Reset in New York City offers the police a constructive alternative to prosecuting anyone arrested for nonviolent, minor crimes such as trespassing or shoplifting.
Individuals may be able to avoid court — and a criminal record — by voluntarily participating in art classes, a gallery walk, or counseling sessions. The philosophy: education and reflection are more effective than punishment.
Here’s how it works: Police inform someone arrested for a low-level offense that he or she may be eligible for Project Reset. After prosecutors review each case, those who qualify are offered a chance to engage in three hours of programming rather than going to court.
Participants are offered voluntary referrals to social services, such as job training, counseling, and substance abuse treatment. If they successfully complete the intervention, they never set foot in a courtroom. Instead, the local district attorney’s office declines to prosecute the case and their arrest record is sealed.