TRENTON - Two members of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission’s Gang Management Unit will receive the National Gang Crime Research Center's (NGCRC) 2005 Thrasher Award. The award will be presented to Dominick Cicala and Allen Mitchell at the opening session of the NGCRC’s annual conference and award ceremony at the Westin Michigan Avenue Hotel in Chicago, on Wednesday, August 10.
NGCRC is a non-profit organization that researches and disseminates information on gangs and gang members, and provides training and consulting services. The Thrasher Award was created in 1992 to honor and recognize outstanding individuals for superior service, accomplishments, and leadership in the fight to make society safer from the threat posed by violent criminal gangs. The award is named in honor of Frederick Milton Thrasher, the author of a 1927 study of Chicago gangs that included the first social scientific analysis of gangs.
“Dominick Cicala and Allen Mitchell are dedicated to realizing the potential of the young people in the JJC's care and in New Jersey’s communities. They know that with the right tools, we can help young people who are part of the street gang culture change their futures. They are truly deserving of this honor,” said Howard L. Beyer, Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission.
Cicala and Mitchell have been instrumental in creating the JJC’s comprehensive gang awareness program that addresses youth gangs at all levels. With funding from the State Department of Education, the JJC developed a cutting-edge education curriculum, entitled Phoenix, that corresponds with the NJ Core curriculum standards. This course can be tailored for youth in secure detention and JJC residential and day programs, as well as county-operated detention centers and community-based programs. The workbook-based lessons provide structure and support, and clearly identify the progress of participants. The most important goal of the curriculum is developing self-efficacy skills, thereby allowing juveniles to understand how to react to risky situations, and to think through their actions and responses to avoid future gang involvement.