Richard Ferruccio has the experience and heart to help today’s children make better choices and live better lives, and his dedication to that greater future has earned him a place on the Juvenile Justice Hearing Board for Johnston and Smithfield.
The Tri-County Community Action Agency coordinates the Juvenile Hearing Boards for Johnston and Smithfield, as well as North Providence and Scituate. The Hearing Boards offer an alternative to Family Court for first-time juvenile offenders who are under the age of 18, who may be sent to Family Court for disposition. According to information from the agency, these cases are referred to the Juvenile Hearing Boards from the local police.
Sanctions are then imposed to divert juvenile offenders from a second offense while identifying problems affecting their behavior, including truancy, disobedience or delinquency. Hearing Boards are consistent with the concept of restorative justice, which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at-large.
Ferruccio is no stranger to law and order. He is the president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers. He’s been a correctional officer in the state since 1984 and served for 21 years with the Rhode Island National Guard, leaving as a Technical Sergeant.
On Tuesday, Mayor Joseph Polisena swore in Ferruccio to the board in a special ceremony held at Town Hall. Councilman Robert Russo made the recommendation to appoint Ferruccio to the board.
“Richard is an excellent choice for the board, he has more than 30 years of experience as a correctional officer. I think he’s a good role model because he can say to kids, ‘Listen, you fly straight or you end up seeing me,’” said Polisena.
Ferruccio was one of the creators of the Department of Corrections SCORE program, which provides a community service aimed at educating young men and women about the ramifications of choices they make. The goal of the program seeks to positively alter these children’s futures in a way that would discourage a lifestyle leading to negative dealings with the law and possible incarceration. It represents one of several youth-based initiatives that Ferruccio has been involved with, including a Special Community Outreach and Education program.
“It’s not a scared straight program. We bring in troubled kids or just regular school kids and we bring in inmates who talk about making the right choices,” said Ferruccio. “It’s all about helping kids make the right choices.”
Ferruccio married his “high school sweetheart,” Genevieve, 29 years ago and has four children. He said his oldest son has had trouble in the past and he as a father has seen the “other side” of drug use and making poor choices and how it affects a family. Ferruccio said he knows the importance of reaching a child early.
“When you see that kind of stuff, you think, ‘God, what does it take to let these kids know how wrong their choices are.’ I’m 53 years old. The things we saw as children are nothing compared to what these kids are facing now,” said Ferruccio. “I hope we can deter kids from doing something wrong.”
Ferruccio previously had opened Rick’s Game Center at the Bond Plaza on Hartford Avenue, which operated for several years. His intentions were to open a safe place where kids could go and stay out of trouble. His term of service on the board will extend to September 2020.
“If I can talk to a kid and let them know and help them understand where their choices will take them, I hope to do that,” he said. “Hopefully, I can make a difference in some of these children’s lives. I think with my history and experience I can do that. If I can help one kid, it’ll be a success.”