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Press Release
For Immediate Release:
April 27, 2004
Sharon Lauchaire

Juvenile Justice Commission's New Life Skills and Leadership Academy Graduates First Team

TABERNACLE - Seventeen young men graduated today from the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission's new Life Skills and Leadership Academy (LS&LA). The graduates and their families were joined by Howard L. Beyer, Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission; Markus Green, Chief of Staff, Office of the Attorney General; Kathleen Tumolo, Superintendent, Life Skills and Leadership Academy; and Brigadier General Alfred A. Saneli, Valley Forge Academy.

The Life Skills and Leadership Academy replaces the former Stabilization and Reintegration Program, commonly referred to as the State's juvenile boot camp. While the new program maintains some of the characteristics of the former program including uniforms, graduation ceremonies and drill exercises, its new focus is on disciplined academic and vocational programing that helps each youth reach his full potential.

"The Juvenile Justice Commission is proud to graduate its first team of students from the new Life Skills and Leadership Academy," said Howard L. Beyer, Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. "After spending several years explaining that New Jersey's juvenile boot camp was different than traditional punitive military-style programs, we decided to rename the program and refocus its mission to reflect the Juvenile Justice Commission's emphasis on preparing each youth to return home."

"The Life Skills and Leadership Academy exemplifies the goal of the Juvenile Justice Commission," said Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "It is up to us to provide these juveniles, many who come from our State's urban centers and come to us with many obstacles in their paths, with the life skills they need to succeed and lead our communities into the future. It is not just our job to punish these youth, but to turn their lives around. We only succeed when these youth are successful."

The three-phased program can accommodate approximately 65 students comprised of three program teams and one orientation team. The orientation phase, which lasts several weeks, allows trainees to gradually adjust to the structured and physically demanding program. The Academy portion of the program focuses on academic and vocational training that allow each youth to maximize his potential. Students are required to participate in an aftercare component for up to 18 months during which they are visited regularly by a juvenile parole officer and continue to receive necessary counseling in the community.

"We have worked very hard to craft a new program that prepares our graduates for life back in the community," said Superintendent Kathleen Tumolo. "By focusing on education and vocational training, we can prepare them for the challenges and opportunities that await them when they return home."

Students spend a total of six months at the Life Skills and Leadership Academy. In addition to academic and vocational training, students participate in community projects in the surrounding communities, receive substance abuse and anger management counseling, and participate in recreation activities including a challenging obstacle course located on the grounds.

PLEASE NOTE: The Life Skills and Leadership Academy is a secure juvenile facility for youth placed in the custody of the JJC by the court system. New Jersey State Law protects a juvenile's confidentiality. Consent has been obtained to allow certain juveniles to speak with members of the press and be photographed. Photographs where a juvenile, family member or visitor can be identified are strictly prohibited. Reporters are asked to meet at the staging area after the commencement of the drill exercise to interview appropriate graduates and officials.

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