Basketball Star and Attorney Len Elmore Joins Board of Advisors and Calls for Change in the NYDN
Len Elmore joined forces with the Greenburger Center because he knows firsthand about mental illness, substance use disorders and the criminal justice system. His two older brothers died from drug use and his father was murdered by Marvin Penick, a man with mental illness and a co-occuring drug addiction who was released from prison on a violent assault charge without having received treatment. Elmore's father knew about Penick's past but decided to give him a chance by giving him a job.
Elmore thinks his father's instinct to help was the right one, but that he placed too much trust in Penick and the criminal justice system. In his father's absence, Len passed on his father's values to his children, though with some caveats about staying safe while lending a hand.
These same values are in part what led him to seek a law degree from Harvard after retiring from basketball and later to work as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn. It was there that he saw the failings of the criminal justice system and the desperate need for alternatives to incarceration; especially for those with substance use disorders or mental illness.
"We are criminalizing mental illness and substance use disorders. For many people who end up in the criminal justice system, these diseases are linked to childhood trauma. By criminalizing the symptoms of a larger social problem, we exacerbate the trauma, make defendants more ill, cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually, and make communities less safe. The system makes no sense. We must treat those who end up in the criminal justice system because of illness and abuse, instead of traumatizing them. The Greenburger Center's Hope House is designed to do just that."
The Greenburger Center is honored to have Len Elmore join the Board of Advisors to advocate for criminal justice reforms and diversion programs for those who have no other options.