Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s Emerging Adult Court of Hope (EACH) graduated two participants today, Zayanah Dickson, 24, of Springfield, and Joel Arroyo Collazo, 24, of Springfield, on Thursday, November 2, 2023. Both participants had been facing several serious charges but instead choose to participate in the EACH program in order to turn their lives around.
November 2, 2023 -Springfield- Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s Emerging Adult Court of Hope (EACH) graduated two participants today, Zayanah Dickson, 24, of Springfield, and Joel Arroyo Collazo, 24, of Springfield, on Thursday, November 2, 2023. Both participants had been facing several serious charges but instead choose to participate in the EACH program in order to turn their lives around.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “We are so proud of both Zayanah and Joel, who have decided to change their lives by taking accountability and working hard to achieve their goals. Their success is heartening and inspiring to their fellow participants, our team, and to me. What Joel and Zayanah have done is exactly what we envisioned when EACH began in 2020 – providing opportunities for individuals to improve their life station by investing in themselves through hard work and hope, ultimately finding a career path, and staying out of the criminal justice system for good.”
Both participants appeared before the court for the last time today. During the proceedings the Commonwealth presented the court with motions for new trials for both Joel and Zayanah, which were then accepted by the court. In a dramatic moment, the Commonwealth then presented the court with motions to dismiss the charges, citing both their participation in EACH along with their records of successfully fulfilling the program goals. The presiding EACH Judge, The Honorable Kevin V. Maltby, accepted the prosecution’s motion and dismissed all charges. This completed procedure fulfilled the District Attorney’s promise to clear the participants’ records, should they make it through the program successfully.
Zayanah Dickson was originally charged with: carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded large capacity firearm, defacement of a firearm, (no serial number), and possession of ammunition without an FID card. he plead guilty to these offenses on June 6, 2022 to become an EACH participant.
At the time Zayanah was arrested, he was struggling in many areas, including with a serious and lifelong health condition. Over the course of his time in EACH, he endured hospital stays, but, ultimately, with the help of the EACH team and ROCA staff, he has learned how to manage his condition and feel stronger, which now allows him to work full-time and manage all of his responsibilities.
He furthered his formal education by earning his high school equivalency diploma, completed the court’s mandated transitional employment program, and was hired by MasterCorp as a full-time employee. During this process of career development, Zayanah focused on his passion to help others and obtained full-time employment with the Behavioral Health Network (BHN) in May 2023. He has since pursued other opportunities for advancement at BHN and completed his course of study to become a peer support specialist and will take his certification test on October 31, 2023.
Over the past 16 months while being an EACH participant, he has overcome challenges regarding his health, and maintained his court-ordered abstinence from alcohol and other drugs through random screening. He plans on entering the healthcare field in January when he begins his training to become an emergency medical technician.
Joel Arroyo Collazo was originally charged with: carrying a loaded firearm without a license, possession of a large capacity firearm while committing a felony, possession of a defaced of a firearm while committing felony, (no serial number), Possession of a firearm without an FID card, possession of drugs with intent to distribute class A, possession of drugs with intent to distribute class B, and carrying a firearm without a license. he plead guilty to these offenses on July 19, 2021 to become an EACH participant.
Joel was held on bail for nearly a year before being accepted into the EACH Court. Despite having options that would have resolved his case more expeditiously, he choose the more arduous path of EACH participation. He pled guilty one day shy of the one year anniversary of his arrest and was placed on a two year probationary term.
In his 27 months with the program, Joel has successfully completed ROCA’s transitional employment program and then obtained and maintained outside full-time employment for the past year. Joel has also addressed his mental health concerns that contributed to his court involvement, and maintained court-ordered abstinence from alcohol and drugs.
During his time in EACH, Joel has pursued education and career training by earning his high school equivalency diploma, and certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a forklift operator, and CPR/First Aid. He has explored various career opportunities including a commercial driver’s license and welding. He is currently employed by the Home Depot Warehouse as well as in the food service industry. Through his hard work and persistence he was able to get his driver’s license and purchase a car while he has been a member of EACH.
The Emerging Adult Court of Hope began in February 2020 and was created by Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni, ROCA, and the Massachusetts Trial Court. EACH’s mission is to change the trajectory of the lives of young people from 18 to 24 years old who are court-involved and facing incarceration. To do this, a team of experienced court and non-profit professionals support these young people in addressing the underlying issues contributing to their circumstances. This may include addressing such issues as: behavioral and mental health, substance-use disorders, housing instability, and food insecurity. This occurs while the court provides a path forward through education, consistent work, and, ultimately, a career path.
In order to join the court, participants must plead guilty to the charges against them and work their way through a four-phase program that includes attending therapy, finding supportive housing, staying away from crime and maintain a full-time job. If they are unsuccessful and they are removed from the court they are then sentenced on their original charges. If the participants complete the court’s mandates successfully, their cases are dismissed and their records are cleared.
In the first phase, participants begin EACH with the transitional employment program facilitated through ROCA. When they move on to phase two, they are allowed to apply for outside jobs, or after 45 days in the transitional employment program, if they show strong work ethic and responsibility. If the participant cannot maintain their employment they begin again with transitional employment. In the third phase, the participant gets a mentor and identifies a career path. In the fourth phase, a case manager helps them form a life plan, which must include an educational or vocational path, or a sustainable career. The program is designed to take 18-24 months to complete. Participants are closely monitored by both ROCA and probation officers from the Massachusetts Probation Service.
This is the third EACH graduation, and Zayanah and Joel are the third and fourth graduates of the groundbreaking program.