Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Programs Give Young Offenders Second Chance

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Programs Give Young Offenders Second Chance

Article excerpt

The crime is fighting in school, but the reason is because the boy had reached his limit of being bullied and finally stood up for himself. The crime is stealing money, but the reason is because the girl had not eaten all day and wanted to buy soft drinks and snacks for her and her younger brother before they walked home in the heat of the summer.

These kids are not bad kids. They just made some bad choices. They do need to face consequences for their behavior, but traditional juvenile probation is not always the best method for each youth and their crime.

Youths younger than 18 who are accused of committing a delinquent or criminal act are typically processed through the juvenile justice system, which can include arrest, detainment, petitions, hearings, adjudications, dispositions, placement, probation, and re- entry.

There are many options available for juvenile probation departments to choose to best fit the nature of the crime and the needs of the juvenile. Vanderburgh County is fortunate to have restorative justice programs available to youths who have committed minor offenses and to redirect them toward community-based treatment instead of confinement. The goal is to make the juvenile a more responsible citizen by the time he or she completes the program. It also allows for juveniles to address concerns with family issues, mental health and substance abuse.

Restorative justice balances the victim, offender and community needs based on these principles

Focusing on harm done to and the needs of the victim, the community and the offender

Addressing the obligations to all parties that result from the offense

Using services available through community collaborations

Seeking to right any wrongs

Judge Brett Niemeier and the Vanderburgh County Juvenile Court partner with Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana to provide a Teen Court restorative justice program, which is a diversion program for young offenders in Evansville. …

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