Growing alternatives to juvenile detention and juvenile court have played an important role in both reducing the juvenile detention population and fostering a paradigm shift in how the County helps youth and increases public safety. Those programs include:
Creative Justice is a community-based alternative to detention that arts agency 4Culture launched in early 2015 in coordination with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Superior Court. The program’s mentor artists use writing, music, performance, and visual art to increase the participants’ understanding of themselves and circumstances that often lead to incarceration. It also strengthens positive decision-making and emotional expression skills that, together, help them avoid future court involvement.
Restorative Mediation sessions are led by mediators who help offenders understand the full impacts of their actions directly from victims and find the community-based support they need to stay out of the criminal justice system in the future. Peer mediators trained locally at schools like Garfield High participate in the mediation process.
Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS)
Family Intervention & Restorative Services (FIRS) offers youth arrested for family violence incidents space at an overnight respite center instead of secure detention. FIRS staff offer de-escalation counseling to safely reunite youth with their family. At no cost to them, families are offered in-home family counseling, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, and the Step-Up Program, which specifically addresses adolescent family violence. Compared to the same period in 2015, juvenile domestic violence case filings dropped 62% since the program launched in January 2016.
Drug Court allows juveniles charged with an offense who have alcohol or drug problems to participate in a 9- to 24-month program that includes early, continuous and intensive court-monitored treatment. This approach motivates participants to finish their mandatory treatment, maintain school or employment, complete community service and other court-ordered conditions. If a juvenile successfully completes the Drug Court program, their charges are dismissed.
The Step-Up Program is a nationally recognized adolescent family violence intervention program designed to address youth violence toward family members. The goal is for youth to stop violence and abuse toward their family and develop respectful family relationships so that all family members feel safe at home. Step-Up will work with a pilot program beginning in 2016, Family Intervention Restorative Services, to deliver resources to families without involving youth in the juvenile justice system.
The 180 Program, created in a partnership between the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and community-based leaders, is a diversion program that offers youth a chance to have their charges dismissed if they participate in a workshop that helps them work through personal struggles that may be leading to misbehavior. Youth can also be paired with mentors after taking the 180 Program workshop. The program has helped dismiss the charges of more than 1,500 youth since its inception in 2012.
Partnership for Youth Justice
Partnership for Youth Justice’s Community Accountability Board interviews offending youth and his or her parents, then determines a constructive accountability plan. A program monitor follows up to make sure the accountability plan is successfully completed.