The top lawyer assigned to Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s groundbreaking juvenile diversion program was honored as one of the year’s outstanding prosecutors at a ceremony last month at Suffolk University Law School.
Assistant District Attorney Michael V. Glennon, deputy chief of Conley’s Juvenile Unit, received the Newman A. Flanagan Award for Outstanding Superior Court Prosecutor, recognizing his work investigating and litigating on a wide range of cases, from motor vehicle homicides to sexual assaults to the deaths of two workmen in an unsupported trench excavation in 2016. But Conley noted in particular Glennon’s successful long-term efforts to create the Suffolk County Juvenile Alternative Resolution Program, a community-based diversion project that goes beyond the usual first-time and low-level offenders to whom most such programs are geared. “Michael has dedicated the past two years to building an ambitious juvenile diversion program that would lead the Commonwealth and the nation,” Conley said. “His work building the JAR partnerships and protocols has contributed directly to its success and its overwhelming support in the community – all while he carried a caseload of serious felony prosecutions in Suffolk Superior Court.”
Conley’s office informally diverts almost all first-time and low-level juvenile cases. The Juvenile Alternative Resolution program intervenes with moderate- to high-risk youth, providing accountability through community-based alternatives to traditional prosecution in the juvenile courts. Most eligible cases are placed “on hold” while the youth receives family and educational services, works with mentors and positive role models, and engages in pro-social activities. If participants successfully complete the program, then they are never arraigned, and the charges never appear on a criminal record. Conley launched the JAR pilot program in early 2017 with six partner agencies. Earlier this year, he expanded it and welcomed four new partner agencies to double its capacity. In its first year, the JAR took 45 juveniles charged with a total of 100 offenses, including assaults, robberies, and other offenses. Some were as young as 11 but about half were 16 or 17 years old.
“We were warned that there was a risk in taking this older, more experienced cohort into the program,” Conley said. “But with a success rate of about 95%, I’m more convinced than ever that the rewards outweigh that risk.” Glennon oversees the legal side of the JAR program and is the primary point of contact with community groups, stakeholders, and other interested parties. He works alongside Juvenile Unit Chief Mark Zanini and Diversion Coordinator Nicole Robbins to ensure its smooth and consistent use as it expands across Suffolk County. “Our work as prosecutors isn’t to win convictions,” Conley said. “It’s to do justice. Michael V. Glennon has truly taken that mission to heart, and I’m grateful to have him on our team.”