The District Attorney’s Juvenile Unit handles offense committed by youths between 10 and 17 years of age. The juvenile justice system is separate and distinct from the adult criminal justice system; it is essentially a civil process with a treatment component designed to use quick and targeted intervention as the best approach to changing behavior of young offenders.
Juvenile case filings dropped by 62% from 2001 to 2017. Much of this success is due to the innovative approaches used to promote public safety through better decision-making and cutting-edge, collaborative programs designed to change behavior.
Juvenile Diversion Program
First-time, non-violent juvenile offenders may be accepted into the Juvenile Diversion Program. Upon successful complete the requirements of the one-year program their case will be dismissed. This is a very effective program and has maintained a recidivism rate below 10% for the last five years.
Juvenile Mental Health Court
Many times young offenders end up involved in illegal activity as a result of untreated mental illness. This Juvenile Mental Health Court gives youth, and their families, the opportunity to address their criminal behavior and mental health issues.
Juvenile Assessment Center
The Juvenile Assessment Center provides a collaborative approach to evaluating youths at the entry-point of the juvenile justice system. Juvenile offenders are assessed by experts from law enforcement, human service agencies, the school district, human services, and the District Attorney’s Office to determine the best course of action.
Low-Risk Offender Program
This partnership with the Juvenile Assessment Center offers low-risk juvenile offenders a quick treatment plan addressing issues underlying their criminal conduct. Low-risk offenses can include curfew violations, possession of alcohol by a minor, shoplifting, etc. If the youth successfully complete the program, no criminal case is filed. The program has a 95 to 98% success rate.
This multi-disciplinary approach to young offenders, age 10-12, focuses on short-term intervention while address specific needs and risks. The program is designed to reduce recidivism and to keep young offenders out of detention centers. Success with young offenders depends upon early coordinated intervention to assess and treat familial and mental health issues that are leading to criminal involvement. The number of youths in the program has more than doubled in the past four years, reflecting the need for such a program in our juvenile justice system.
A MAJOR PREDICTOR OF FUTURE DELINQUENCY AMONG JUVENILES IS THE AGE AT FIRST OFFENSE
Sex Offender Community Supervision
The program offers alternatives for juveniles who have been arrested for sex offenses. If a juvenile chooses this alternative of treatment and rehabilitation, the DA's community safety officer (CSO) will give them an opportunity to engage in community-based treatment instead of being held in detention. The CSO will closely monitor the youth and develop a safety plan for the youth at home, school, and for others who have contact with them.
The Sexting Solutions program is designed as an intervention to divert low-risk juveniles who have shared sexually explicit images of themselves or others. The gender-specific curriculum is preventive and is designed to provide insight, guidance, and intervention to juveniles who have used cellphone technology to engage in sexually explicit interactions. The class addresses concept such as boundaries, healthy relationships, body image, self-respect, risky behaviors, coping skills, peer pressure, consent and factors that impact the ability to consent, and victim impact. The program also includes a mandatory session for parents.