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|October 11, 2011
Director of Communications
CHELSEA PROBATION DEPARTMENT LAUNCHES ONE OF STATE'S
FIRST PROGRAMS FOR COURT-INVOLVED LATINAS
A group of 20 women are the first participants in a new Womanhood Program developed by the Chelsea District Court’s Probation Department to address the specific needs and challenges of court-involved women, as well as to reduce recidivism. Also known as “Programa de la Mujer,” the Womanhood Program is a collaboration with the city’s Roca Community Center and is the first Probation initiative specifically designed for Hispanic women although it is open to all ethnicities.
Completion of the 11-week program will reduce an offender’s probation by three months, according to Chelsea District Court Probation Officer Olga Lattarulo who developed the initiative with Probation Officers Carolyn Shannon and Debra Cerundolo, and Associate Probation Officer Christine Thomas.
After witnessing a common pattern among the women who came before the court, the four officers devised a plan and curriculum that addresses issues of domestic violence, anger management, substance abuse, and prostitution, which will be explored by health and criminal justice professionals during weekly lectures and group discussions.
During the weekly sessions, the participants will hear from speakers including ASAP Chelsea’s Family Resource Coordinator Lilly Santiago who will discuss anger management. Kim Hanton, Clinician and Program Manager for the Intensive Outpatient Program at Conexions, will address substance abuse; Dr. Robert Taylor, director of Health Awareness Connection, will speak about sexually transmitted diseases; and Chelsea Police Detective Rosalba Medina will discuss domestic violence. Additional topics such as stress, anxiety, and nutrition also will be explored.
"Chelsea District Court is a community court, whose mission is to offer resources that enhance the lives of the residents of two vibrant, diverse and proud cities: Chelsea and Revere. Chelsea District Court is pleased and excited about its partnership with Roca in offering the Womanhood Program, which we confidently anticipate will provide positive redirection and life skills to court-involved women," said Chelsea District Court First Justice Diana Maldonado.
Chief Probation Officer Vito Aluia stated, “The Womanhood Program was designed to assist and guide women in this community who come before the court. Providing these resources to women will help to put them on the right path and reduce crime.”
One of the program’s founders, Probation Officer Lattarulo, commented, “This program aims to provide women in the community with a better understanding of the judicial system. A lot of times, people break the law due to their lack of knowledge of how it works. However, if we educate the community, it helps them understand, adapt, and learn how to become law abiding citizens.”
She added, “Preventing recidivism and establishing a positive relationship with offenders helps them modify their behavior, as well as achieve a healthy life free of violence, drugs, and criminal activity.”
A major curriculum focus is domestic violence, according to Probation Officer Shannon, who noted that domestic violence is one of the more serious problems affecting the Hispanic community. “Every day we see cases where men are abusing their wives or girlfriends,” she said. Our program will teach women how to deal with this problem and tap the community resources that are available.”
The Womanhood Program is one of six Probation-established initiatives across the state for court-involved women. It is one of two programs open to women who are not mothers with the other operating at the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court. The four programs designed for mothers include the Mother to Mother Program for teen moms at the Essex Juvenile Court; and the Mothers’ Programs at Cambridge District Court, Lawrence District Court, and the longest-running program at West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, established 12 years ago.