State PD: Giving criminals a second chance is helping reduce cri - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

State PD: Giving criminals a second chance is helping reduce crime

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

State and Springfield police are rebuilding the North End, one criminal at a time.

CBS 3 has already introduced you to the innovative C3 policing unit that has helped cut crime by 68 percent in the North End.

The key to C3 policing is not just arresting criminals, it's also about giving them another option.

In the North End, state police are now referring young people on the path to or from prison to a local business owner who is helping them transform their lives.

Meet Juan Sierra.

From robberies to selling drugs on the corner, he had almost lost all hope.

"I lost like 13 friends, they all died of gunshots, I thought I'd be dead by the age of 17," he said.

He was pulled over by state police trooper and creator of C3 policing, Trooper Michael Cutone at one of his lowest points.

"I got caught riding dirt bikes on Plainfield Street," Sierra said.

But instead of arresting him, Cutone referred him to Gary Linsky.

"It's a better alternative than going to jail, and that's where Juan was going," Linsky said.

It was Trooper Cutone that also pulled over Linsky two and a half years ago for speeding, and ended up involving him with the weekly C3 police meetings.

He owns Green Street Logistics, working in paving and landscaping. So far he has taken nine young men who were on the path to prison and given them a second shot.

"I offer these kids an alternative to drugs. They can come work for me, and at the end of the day they get paid," Linsky said.

But he is much more than a businessman, he knows the struggles that people like Sierra face.

"I myself am an ex-convict, and it's just really hard to get a job," Linsky said.

Linsky sees a little of his son in the people he's helping, a son who is also doing prison time.

"It's really good therapy because now he's on the road to being a better person," he said.

Linsky teaches Sierra and the others something much more valuable than time spent in a jail cell.

"Gary will tell them, 'hey I've been in jail, I've been on the streets I've done all those negative things, please learn from my mistakes,'" said State Police Trooper Luis Rodriguez.

Sierra has been learning from Linsky for the past seven months, he's now a homeowner and starting his own business.

"I didn't even think people like that would care for people like me, and I was wrong," he said.

"This is proof that they'd rather come here and work than get in trouble," Linsky said.

For Sierra this job is another shot, and one he hopes others will choose to take as well.

"There's things I never thought I'd experience ever in my life. I never thought I'd be able to do this and God has given me a second chance," Sierra said.

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