Joshua Alcantara: Success Story

His role in a mugging nearly put him in prison; now he's at college with plans to study criminal justice.
Joshua Alcantara: Success Story

Recipient of AFJ/ Andrew Glover Youth Program’s Second Chance Award, 2011

Joshua Alcantara was born in 1993 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Although he lived with both parents, his mother bore the burden of raising and supporting her four children. Joshua recalls how, despite working long days at the New York City Housing Authority, she was both a mother and father to him, paying all the bills, putting food on the table, and still making time to love her kids. Joshua will never forget how much his mother sacrificed for him.

Through middle school, Joshua was a model student with good grades. It was not until he entered high school, that his attitude shifted. He struggled with schoolwork, withdrew into apathy about his slumping grades, and took to the streets.

On the morning of October 28, 2009, Joshua and a friend skipped school. Joshua’s friend brought him down the street to another high school, where to Joshua’s shock, his friend jumped a young man, beat him to the ground and ran off with his backpack. Joshua vaguely remembers succumbing to his friend’s demand that he serve as the lookout for police. After they ran away, Joshua’s friend threw the book bag on the ground in disgust, realizing there was nothing valuable in it.

It only took a few days for Joshua’s actions to catch up with him. He was arrested for carrying a knife and during processing, Joshua was informed that there was a warrant out for his arrest for the violent mugging. Joshua was charged with second-degree robbery – a felony – and faced three to five years in prison. Fortunately for Joshua, his aunt knew of the Andrew Glover Youth Program and called Angel Rodriguez to seek his advice. Angel showed up at Joshua’s first court appointment, and agreed to intervene if Joshua was willing to comply with the rules and regulations of the Glover Program. By November, Joshua was attending the Robert Siegal Center in the Lower East Side from 3pm to 7pm, where he participated in anger management courses and received general counseling. Joshua also had to comply with the Glover Program’s strict 8:00 P.M. nightly curfew.

After eight months of positive progress reports to the court, Angel was able to work out a plea deal of a deferred sentence with the promise of five years of probation with adjudication of youthful offender status without any prison time. More importantly, Joshua’s felony conviction -- which could have haunted his social and vocational potential for life – would be sealed by the court upon his successful completion of the Glover Program.

With help from his AGYP youth worker, Nelson Valentine, Joshua pulled up his grades at school, got tutoring at the Robert Siegal Center, and successfully graduated from high school. He then enrolled at Bronx Community College, where he'll study criminal justice. His goal is to help others turn their lives around after ill-advised criminal decisions.

Joshua remains grateful that his mother, who sacrificed so much for him, could watch him graduate from high school and go on to college. He firmly believes that of it weren’t for the Glover Program, he would be behind bars, just like many of his old friends. Joshua recalls that “Angel found a potential in me that others just didn’t see.”

Photo: Marty Umans