The number of juvenile arrests have gone down over the past decade, however, there were still approximately 1 million juvenile arrests just in 2014 – most for non-violent crimes. Many are subject to the juvenile justice system or, depending on their age, some may be referred to the adult criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, regardless of whether those arrested avoid conviction or are otherwise found not guilty, a brush with the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems leaves an indelible mark on youth. Many of those accused may well end up in a cycle of incarceration for lack of a meaningful intervention in impersonal and overcrowded court systems. As the national field director for the New York-based Youth First Initiative puts it, “Juvenile courts can be like quicksand”.
In response to the problem, diversion programs are gaining traction across the nation in hopes of steering kids away from the established juvenile justice system altogether. One such program in California aims to do “everything it can to keep kids out of court”. Instead of embarking on a downward spiral into the juvenile court system, offenders and their parent/s attend sessions with law enforcement, retired judges or the like to explore the motivations behind their illegal activities and seek solutions to get them on the right track. While many diversion programs handle mostly misdemeanor cases, such as shoplifting, drug or alcohol possession, or vandalism, others work with kids facing felonies or who are dealing with high risk behaviors such as drug addiction or mental illness.
Although data is still being gathered on the success of the program, some individual databases and anecdotal reports show encouraging results. On the whole, diversion programs are reporting somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10 percent recidivism rate when compared to the estimated 30 to 35 percent rate for those caught up “in the system”. Many of those who emerge have a better understanding of the consequences of their actions and are more thoughtful moving forward. They are not hindered by a criminal record.
If your son, daughter or other family member has been charged with a criminal offense, it is important to seek the help of an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer to secure the best possible outcome. A conviction for a juvenile crime can have many ramifications on a child’s future from their ability to obtain student loans, attend college, to landing a job among other negative impacts.
The juvenile criminal defense attorney team at Andrew C. Ladd has helped numerous young people with charges of drunk driving, under age drinking, possession of alcohol or drugs, distribution of drugs, assault and sexual assault, internet crimes and more. Our Waukesha, Wisconsin juvenile criminal law attorneys have earned an excellent reputation among juvenile court judges and legal professionals for our integrity and honest efforts to truly help minors. Contact us today for help – free consultation.
Source: East Bay Times, “Juvenile-diversion’ Programs Work to Steer East Bay Youth to the Straight and Narrow”, by Sam Richards, October 3, 2016.