The Community Justice Juvenile Services department provides or makes referrals to a number of specific evidence-based practices and programs that focus on the identified risk factors of offenders.
- Aggression Replacement Training (ART)
- Victim Assistance, Youth Accountability Program (VAYA)
- Girl's Circle
- Thinking for Change
- Options to Anger
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
- Risk Assessment
- Boys Council
- Restorative Dialogues
- Restorative Circles
- Juvenile Fire Setter Program
Aggression Replacement Training (ART)
Anger is a strong emotion and the inability to manage anger has resulted in the incarceration of many offenders. Selected youth are provided an opportunity to learn alternative behaviors to aggression, increase overall skills and understand more about moral reasoning.
ART is an intervention that includes pro-social skills training, anger control and moral reasoning. Offenders are expected to learn to substitute pro-social thinking and behavioral skills for aggressive and other anti-social activities.
Victim Assistance, Youth Accountability Program (VAYA)
VAYA is conceived to provide support for victims of juvenile crime, while support the offenders in becoming increasingly accountable for their actions. The VAYA is a series of classes in which youth offenders go through over the course of one month. The classes are designed to encourage the youth to take responsibility for their action, explore how those actions have impacted their victims and the wider community, and develop a plan for making things right.
Girl's Circle is a structured support group that addresses the specialized needs of girls ages 9–18 by integrating relational–cultural theory (RCT), resiliency practices, and skills training into a specific format designed to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls. It aims to counteract social and interpersonal forces that impede girls’ growth and development
Thinking for a Change
Thinking for a Change is an integrated, cognitive behavior change program for offenders that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills.
Options to Anger
The curriculum covers: The automatic anger cycle, early warning signs, physical and emotional, "I" statements, taking space strategies, anchoring (using positive self-talk for self-affirmations, putting things into perspective, snapping out of anger), relaxation techniques, the courage need for change and negotiation skills.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an approach designed to facilitate resolution of issues that inhibit positive behavior change by actively engaging the offender in the process. Demonstrating empathy, encouraging offender self-exploration, and emphasizing offender autonomy that can successfully help them pursue a course of change.
An assessment used to identify risk and protective factors that put youth at risk of delinquency, and to use this information to guide and update decisions regarding level and type of intervention and/or supervision.
Boys Council is a strengths-based group approach to promote boys’ and young men’s safe, strong and healthy passage through pre-teen and adolescent years.
Current understanding in the field of criminology holds that an important factor in changing criminal behavior and thinking lies in the increase understanding of empathy for an offender's victim(s). Humanizing the criminal event, making the victim a real human being, and increasing the understanding of the human impacts of the criminal act are key to reshaping the thinking and behavior of offenders. Restorative Dialogues are for youth who have already accepted responsibility for the harms they have caused and have an understanding of how their actions impacted others. Restorative Dialogues provides a victim and offender an opportunity to meet face to face in a safe and structured environment. The goal of such meeting is to provide the opportunity for:
- Youth offenders to take direct responsibility for the harms they have caused, understand the impact of what they did, and help develop a plan to repair the harm; and
- Interest victims to tell how they have been affected, receive answers to questions about the crime and be directly involved in developing a workable plan to repair the harm.
A restorative circle is a facilitated group dialogue and decision making process in which a young person who has done harm is encouraged and supported by community members to be directly accountable to the harms caused. As a result of the circle process, the youth will be supported to take responsibility by sharing the details of what happened, exploring the impact of his/her actions, and identifying ways in which to make it right with their victim and their community. The youth will also have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of their choices and to explore possibilities for their future. By providing a consistent structure for open and respectful communication, restorative circle provides an opportunity for youth and community members to establish connection, discover meaning and deepen understanding in profound ways.
Juvenile Fire Setter Program
In partnership with local fire districts, Mediation Works facilitates juvenile fire setter intervention services for youth who have been involved in fire setting offenses. Through this program, the goal is to have youth deepen their understanding of the impact of their actions and to support them in taking responsibility for their actions. If there was a victim of the crime who is interested in meeting with the youth, the youth are then expected to participate in a face to face dialogue with the person(s) they harmed. Finally, an individualized meeting is coordinated with a trained Juvenile Fire Setter Interventionist to reinforce the impact of their behavior on the community and to further educate the youth on the risks and dangers of fire setting.
Over the last few decades, the Juvenile Justice department has made significant changes to its approach to rehabilitating youth offenders. Here’s a summary from Deputy Director Joe Ferguson.