(Prosecutor's Response to Offenders Using Drugs)
Project P.R.O.U.D. (Prosecutor's Response to Offenders Using Drugs) is an alternative method of prosecution for non-violent felons that was established by District Attorney Fitzpatrick in 1992. It is the only program of its kind in any District Attorney Office in Upstate New York.
Project P.R.O.U.D. identifies individuals who have been arrested on non-violent felony charges and who have committed those crimes as a result of an identifiable drug addiction. Instead of prosecuting these inidviduals by "traditional" means (i.e. Grand Jury indictment, trial and incarceration), Project P.R.O.U.D. attempts to "divert" defendants from this path by enrolling candidates into long-term drug rehabilitation and aftercare, educational programs and job training. The ultimate goals are to control and eliminate their drug dependency, assist them in becoming productive members of the community, remove them from any further participation with the criminal justice system and at the same time, save countless tax dollars which would have been spent for prosecution and incarceration.
The criteria for Project P.R.O.U.D are:
1. Candidates must have at least one felony charge pending in Onondaga County.
2. The pending charge or charges may involve drugs or any "non-violent" felony.
3. Candidates must submit to an evaluation by an approved agency and be certified to have a chemical dependency.
4. Defendants with prior felony convictions are also eligible for the program. No one with a conviction of a violent felony or who has a history of violence will be accepted into the program.
5. Candidates charged with drug offenses involving the sale of drugs are eligible provided they are selling to support their "habit" and not for the "sale of profit" or selling to children or sellling in or near a school.
6. All candidates must have ties to the Central New York community.
Participants in the program will receive twelve to eighteen months of treatment as well as education programming and vocational skill and job training before completing Project P.R.O.U.D.
A participant’s initial screening, re-habilitation, after-care, and case disposition are all accomplished without court intervention. This serves to reduce court congestion as well as inmate populations in both local and state correctional facilities, which ultimately saves taxpayer dollars. Since its inception, Project P.R.O.U.D. has reviewed over 500 cases with nearly 250 of them enrolled in the program, 170 of which have successfully completed the program to date.