While it is clearly important to aggressively prosecute criminals, it is just as important that we do everything we can to help keep people from turning to a life of crime in the first place. Nowhere is that need as profound as it is for our children.
Thanks to a three-year federal grant, we were able to implement a new court for juvenile offenders who have just begun to veer off the right track. The Juvenile Multi-Disciplinary Court addresses the underlying causes of a juvenile's delinquency by installing structure and accountability to the child's life. We accomplish this by using a variety of counseling and treatment techniques that are individualized to each juvenile’s unique circumstances.
The program takes approximately one year to complete and includes weekly appearances in front of a judge to monitor each family’s progress.
As of December 2013, graduates of the Juvenile Multi-Disciplinary had a 15 percent recidivism rate.
A success story
James, a 15-year-old, was having a difficult family life when he began smoking marijuana and hanging out with the wrong crowd. The high school student’s father had recently been diagnosed with cancer, his mom had lost her job and their house was teetering on the brink of foreclosure.
His group of friends was involved with a burglary, and James was arrested for receiving stolen goods. He was sentenced into the Beaufort County Juvenile Multi-Disciplinary Court.
In the program, he went through a variety of counseling programs, including one-on-one, group and family sessions. He also completed community service. James’ grades began improving, so much that he is now enrolled in International Baccalaureate courses and is on a college track. Instead of getting high, he found a sport that he loves and he regularly participates in a service club. John now works part-time at a restaurant. The school resource officer and his teachers report a dramatic turnaround.
At his graduation from the court, James told the other participants that his life had been falling apart and he responded in a way that hurt himself and his family. He was trying to be someone that he was not. He now likes the person he had been trying to escape.
This level of introspection indicates a great deal of maturity for someone who previously was heading down the wrong path and is an example of what a comprehensive approach to dealing with juvenile delinquency can produce.
For more information about this program, please contact Michael Lee at 843-255-5908.