SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two young individuals graduated from a program in Springfield that has turned their lives around.

Just three years ago, now 24-year-olds from Springfield, Joel Arroyo and Zayan Dickson were arrested and headed down the path of an unfortunate and uncertain future. They were offered a second chance though, one they both accepted.

Through the Hampden County DA’s office, ROCA, and the State of Massachusetts they took part in the Emerging Adult Court of Hope also known as EACH, and it gave them an opportunity to stay out of prison and upon completion have their case dismissed and records expunged or sealed.

“We had the idea that we could do better, we could provide them with an opportunity for themselves that included accountability and a level of punishment but got them out of jail and gave them the opportunity for success and the opportunity to invest in themselves,” said Anthony Gulluni, Hampden District Attorney.

Both Arroyo and Dickson had to plead guilty to the charges against them and work their way through a four-phase program that includes attending therapy, finding supportive housing, staying away from crime, and maintaining a full-time job. Both made it through all 4 phases and on Thursday, they got to celebrate being on a different path in life, thanks to this second chance.

Zayan Dickson told 22News, “Turning my life around when I had that opportunity and them letting me do it just let me know that everything was worth it.”

Joel Arroyo said, “It’s not easy but you can make it. If I made it, he made it, and the others made it, everybody can make it.”

This was the third-ever graduation for EACH and both Joel and Zayan who are the 3rd and 4th graduates of this program leave behind 15 young adults going through the Emerging Adult Court of Hope themselves all of whom they consider family.

Local News

Heath Kalb is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Heath on X @HeathKalb and view his bio to see more of his work.