Police officers stand guard outside a New York City Police Department substation in Times Square Dec. 22, 2014. 
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City teens ages 16 and 17 who get arrested for nonviolent, petty crimes will be given the opportunity to forgo appearing before a judge and having the citation appear on their record, and instead opt into a “diversion program” that will require them to do community-service hours, counseling or a rehabilitating session with a court of their peers, the New York Daily News reports.

It’s not a new idea—programs like this already exist—but it’s the first of its kind in New York City. It will debut in two city precincts next month: Harlem’s 25th Precinct and Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct in Brownsville.

The program is ideal for teens who slipped up and committed a minor crime; soon they won’t have to worry about criminal charges appearing on their records, especially now, while many of them are in the middle of applying for schools and jobs, authorities said.

"The hope is that for the young person, it's a less intimidating process but more educational, meaningful and positive," Susan Herman, the New York City Police Department's deputy commissioner for collaborative policing, told the Daily News. "For the criminal-justice agencies, it saves time and resources while still addressing accountability."

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who discussed launching such a program soon after he took office last year, according to the Daily News, said, "Any of these young people who commit these offenses can be saved, and that's what this program is all about."

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Read more at the New York Daily News.