Program offers help for female inmates

Samantha Cotroneo is hoping to do things the right way. A burglary charge first landed her in jail when she was 18 years old and she's been in and out ever since.

Now at 27, she's choosing to thrive - thanks to a new program that's providing female inmates with meaningful transitional assistance while incarcerated.

"I want to leave my trash here," Cotroneo said.  "I don't want to bring it home again."

Yaphank jail has programs for aging senior citizens and veterans but both are geared to male inmates. This is the first time a program pod is being offered to the female general population. 

"We have AA, we have drug counseling, anger management, we're providing life skills so they can be better parents and also looking for skills they can use when they return back to the community," said Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.

"They're housed where the programs actually come to them in the group, counseling, educational rooms so they're actually able to kind of fill their days with programming and services instead of just signing up, hoping to get called down and being in one or two per week," said Stephanie Frisz-Gioia with ECLI. 

According to the Suffolk County Sheriff, incarcerated women make up just 10-percent of the housing population inside the county jails. Many of them commonly report addiction and mental health issues as well as domestic violence and traumatic incidents in their lives. 

The sheriff’s office hopes to expand the program in the New Year.