Local artists’ enduring message of hope for troubled youth at Pre-Trial Services

Local artists’ enduring message of hope for troubled youth at Pre-Trial Services

Jail House Blues

Recently, Charlene Leistman, Director of Operations at Pre-Trial Services Corp, contacted Talker of the Town to present publicly for the first time a montage of the dozen or so beautiful murals decorating the walls of the Center for Community Supervision and Diversion.

The instant I saw the captivating paintings I was delighted at the chance. IMG_0903

Pre-Trial Services is a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to provide quality intervention services to individuals accused of crimes in Monroe County. These services include risk assessment, community supervision, diversion, and STOP-DWI sentenced programming.


Show Stopper

I first met Charlene through the work her programs do with troubled youth, some of who are similar to those I met through my time at the RCSD.

One of the most important populations that PTSC interacts with are young adults ages 16-21; kids that have found themselves involved with the legal system, have dropped out of school and have little direction. This programming focuses on needs such as completing their education, finding employment, or changing their thinking to increase personal responsibility while holding them accountable to the court process.

As Charlene explained the program she told me some uplifting stories of young people who have been able to turn their life around. Many have returned to school or completed their education and gone on to obtain employment. Most importantly, they remain out of the criminal justice system.IMG_0899

As for the murals, the original grant originated in 2000 when PTSC received an Arts and Culture Council Grant to bring art classes, music, and local artists to the then Day Reporting Center to work with the clients to develop the murals.  The result is what you see today.  The works, entitled, Arts and Crafts Class, Mastermind Murals, 1-03-03  include Dazz Man [trumpet] Queen Goddess [singing], Freddy’s Revenge [trumpet], Poor Boy Ray [clarinet], Show Stoppers [with King Blow], and Jail House Blues [saxaphone].


The project very much became a kind of occupational therapy. Clients relished the chance to beautify their surrounding by doing something positive and productive. The most powerful of the murals are depictions of clients expressing their feelings though music and song or are set in situations — like jail — clients had experienced themselves.

But the murals are hardly a downer. Quite the opposite. In celebratory vivid colors, they span a panoramic range of topics, from the streets of Rochester to Niagara Fall to a panel looking into deep space and out at the Solar System.

They are an enduring message of hope.IMG_0803


Queen Goddess

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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