Fishtown Local Goes From Near-Felon to Valedictorian

June 2, 2017

Michael Flanagan had worked a string of low-paying jobs, hamstrung by the fact that he never graduated high school. He was taking care of a newborn daughter. And he was selling and recreationally using marijuana.

Then, in February 2016, a neighbor called the police on him, sending Flanagan, a Fishtown resident who was not yet 25, towards a potential felony conviction.

His case was referred to Judge Marsha Neifield, who gave him a choice: Flanagan could proceed to trial, or go to a diversionary program for first-time nonviolent drug felony convictions, called The Choice is Yours (TCY).

“They’re selling for economic reasons. They come into the program with legitimate jobs and they’re trying to make ends meet,” said Kristen Rantanen, a communications expert at TCY’s parent organization, JEVS Human Services.

“It was fast money,” Flanagan agreed.

Read more about Michael and The Choice is Yours in the Spirit News.

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