PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says he has gotten start-up funding from the Lenfest Foundation for a new program targeting first time, non-violent drug offenders, and drug sellers, with the focus on rehabilitation.

Successful participants can avoid a criminal record.

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DA Seth Williams says just sending these offenders to prison isn’t the answer when the recidivism rate is over 70 percent, “the people come back from state prison, now violent, and with their felony conviction, that’s like an economic death sentence. It’s almost impossible for them to get a job.”

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But Williams says “The Choice is Yours” program will offer an alternative; community service, literacy and job training, at a fraction of the cost of incarceration. , “…$5,000 per person per year and in San Francisco, where they have a similar program, the recidivism rate was only about five to ten percent.” says Williams.

The program is expected to be in place later in 2011.

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Reported By Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio.