FIRST OFFENDER PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The At Risk Youth Division First Offender Program provides an alternative to Court-ordered sentencing for first-time youth offenders, ages of 13 to 17 years, to participate in a diversion program. The program includes a three-hour workshop and eight hours of community service that the youth must complete. This program is a collaboration of the City of Phoenix Parks, Recreation, and Library Department At Risk Youth Division with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court Center (MCJCC).
The program offers a class to give juveniles information to help them make better choices in the future and divert them from repeating negative behaviors. The juvenile and parent or guardian must volunteer to participate together to forge improved communication.
Some parents say they need assistance not only with the child formally involved in the First Offender Program but also with their other children who may present even more difficulties. The community service component is important because the youth has an opportunity to give something back. For most, it is the first time they have worked and some discover things about themselves that they did not know.
In 1997 there were 3,476 youths referred to the program, and 1,782 successfully completed the program. The department is looked upon as a favorable environment by the youth participants and the court.
Parents and youths are given evaluations to fill out at the end of each workshop. This is to gauge participant acceptance of the information presented and to get parental feedback about whether they felt the workshop was beneficial for them and the child. Staff reviews the evaluations and, based on the data collected, adjustments are made to the presentation.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.