Daily we hear of a barrage of tragedies at the hands of juvenile violence and crime. One million young people under 18 years of age appear in juvenile courts for delinquency or status offenses each year. The Madison County Juvenile Diversion Program was established in 2006 to encourage and guide these young people to become aware of their future and develop the necessary skills needed to succeed. The Diversion Program has developed a balanced program of meetings and activities, which include combining community service with learning about the court and legal system, conflict resolution, making better choices and planning for their future.
Juvenile Diversion Program
This is a pre-trial program for minors providing first time offenders a positive alternative to juvenile court. Young offenders facing criminal charges will have the opportunity to participate in the program which, through structured activities aims to: improve attitude, self-image, self-esteem, better methods of communication, conflict resolution, goal setting, career planning, developing positive relationships and preventing a decision to break the law again. Upon completion of the program graduates are invited to serve in an intern role providing an example to current students of the program.
Referrals to the program are made by parents, law enforcement and youth workers of Madison and St Clair County communities. Participants are typically between the ages of ten and seventeen. Other factors include; prior criminal convictions, severity of the offense, facts sustaining proof of the alleged offense, and surrounding circumstances. Once a referral has contacted the Diversion Office an intake interview is scheduled with the youth & his/her parent(s) or guardian(s).
An interview consists of a written questionnaire as well as an interview with the youth, a parent or guardian and Diversion Staff. Upon completion of an interview and with consensus of the Diversion Staff, the youth and parent or guardian, the Diversion Contract must be signed by the youth and parent before admission.
Upon successfully completing the program requirements, the alleged offense will be dismissed by the municipalities. However, should a youth not meet the program requirements, they will be redirected to the charging agency, which typically results in prosecution. Over 70% of those completing the program do not re-offend within 6 months of graduation.
All participants are required to complete either 40 hours of pre-approved community service or participate in up to 3 Saturday morning work projects with other youth and adults of the Diversion program.
Meeting Topics, These and more…
Madison County Courthouse Tour
Induction and Graduation proceedings and a discussion of program requirements with a Judge, Prosecutor and Law Enforcement personnel.
Benefits of volunteering and giving to their community, Discussion of the community service requirement and the alternative of Saturday group projects
Co-ed program to build positive self-esteem and the importance of healthy life choices
Careers and Future Planning
Career planning, interviewing techniques, completing job applications, proper dress, and how to keep a job
Resources concerning a student’s sexual health and the risks associated with sexual activity as Juveniles.
Drugs and Alcohol
Realities of Drug and Alcohol usage, medical and legal effects of substance abuse
Each group is staffed with volunteer adult leaders. The leaders are responsible for arranging speakers, facilitating each program meeting, providing guidance and encouragement, maintaining records and serving as a positive role model. Over 20 different volunteer resource speakers from our community will present the program features.
The Madison County Juvenile Diversion Program serves local municipalities in providing an option of diversion to young legal offenders in order to possibly maintain a clean legal record. Youth must participate in structured group meetings focused on teaching “realities of breaking the law” and positive options for their future.
Meetings are held bimonthly for at least 6 months & students must complete 40 hours of community service
Re-offending during the program may cause both new and original offenses to be prosecuted.
Parental support and attendance at required meetings and activities facilitates growth of the family.
By providing this opportunity, youth are given the chance to maintain a clean record. Studies show it is best to keep a first time offender out of court if at all possible. The program saves tax dollars. It also saves the cost and time of judges, prosecutors, probation officers & staff, thus allowing juvenile court more time to address more serious matters requiring court intervention.
Each youth is required to pay a $50.00 registration fee in order to participate, however no one is denied the opportunity due to inability to pay. Financial needs are considered on a case by case basis.
We are proud to be a part in Madison County’s Juvenile Diversion program, which allows youth who are first time offenders a second chance through rehabilitative and work programs and mentorship. If they are compliant they may qualify to have their records expunged. Juveniles are required to attend meetings and do community service.
For more information on the program, please contact the church office at 618-288-7740 or contact the Madison County Courthouse.