FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2009
Capt. Chris Heathscott
State Public Affairs Officer
Arkansas National Guard
Civilian Student Training Program Graduates 53 ~ Juvenile delinquents transform into disciplined young men
CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. – Putting the label of juvenile delinquent behind them, 53 sharp and disciplined young men marched to a roaring cadence as they entered a packed auditorium for their graduation here on Friday, October 9, 2009.
"They've been very successful. They've overcome many obstacles," said Richard Wilson, director of the Arkansas Military Department's Civilian Student Training Program (CSTP). "They've worked real hard to achieve the recognition of being here today."
Established by the State Legislature in 1993, CSTP is a nine-week residential, behavior management program for youth enrolled under court order by the juvenile justice system. During those 16 years, over 5,100 young men have attended the program with a 90% graduation rate.
"This is not a time served program. This is not a jail," said Wilson. "This is where you have to accomplish established goals and objectives to complete and successfully graduate from the program. These young men have done that."
The program was designed to provide a structured, discipline based, military modeled environment for nonviolent offenders, ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old.
"You were successful here because of the structure," said Ms. Angilynn Taylor, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Eighth North Judicial District and guest speaker for the event. "These young men have proven today that with the right structure and plan, they can be successful."
Taylor encouraged the youth to remove the distractions in their lives that led them down the wrong path and brought them there in the first place.
"At CSTP, there were no distractions, bad influences and other temptations, so remove them when you get home," she said. "Don't wonder off the path and lose your way again."
Taylor, who was introduced with a very impressive resume of accomplishments, encouraged the young men by explaining that she was once in there shoes.
"I am a juvenile prosecuting attorney for the state of Arkansas now," she said, "but at 16, I was a juvenile delinquent for the state of Illinois."
"I felt like I was dealt a losing hand," Taylor said mentioning some of the challenges she faced in her life at the time. "I also I felt like my juvenile record would pull me back from doing anything positive with my life. But I'm living proof that it's not over for you. You can achieve anything."
Although this is not a GED program, over 560 of its graduates have earned the General Equivalency Degree during their time at CSTP. The program boasts a 90% pass rate for those who take the GED exam during the residential phase. After completion of the program's residential phase, a 12 month mentorship phase provides the youth with additional guidance in following the right path and finding success in their lives.
"As a juvenile, if you listen to Ms. Taylor, now is time to change," Wilson said as he gave his final words to the graduates. "Each and every one of you young men, I challenge you, to continue to do what you started. You can do that can't you?"
All 53 of the proud graduates responded with a loud and resounding, "YES SIR!!"
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Photo Availability: All images of the ceremony can be found on the Arkansas National Guard Facebook pageImages on Facebook are minimized for ease of upload. For larger image files please contact Capt. Chris Heathscott at (501) 212-5020.