360 Program reduces recidivism

Youth detention alternatives

Cheryl Hill, judge, Marquette County Probate Court

MARQUETTE — The results of a six-county test by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency which awarded In-Home Care Grants to Michigan juvenile courts in Fiscal Year 2015-2016 shows the benefit of community-based treatment programs in place of juvenile detention facilities.

Six Michigan courts, including Marquette County’s 25th Circuit Court, were awarded the grants totaling $635,000. Programs established with these state funds resulted in a reduction in recidivism and lower court costs while strengthening families and bettering the education of its participants, a press release from the MCCD states.

The grants couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for Marquette’s juvenile court as the Marquette County Youth Home, a non-secure 12-bed detention facility, was defunded around the time of grant application, said Marquette County Probate Judge Cheryl Hill.

“The whole idea was, we knew we weren’t going to have the luxury of having a youth home where we could place children out of their homes for brief periods of time to try and get their behavior back in line or help resolve family issues,” Hill said. “We were going to have to do a lot more work in the homes and that’s where these programs came about. How do we serve children but keep them at home and use evidence based programming?”

The 360 Program, an enhanced probation program that uses a combination of training in Effective Practices in Community Supervision, Aggression Replacement Therapy and Moral Reconation Therapy was established. The program offers a variety of services to those court ordered into the program.

“Everyone gets services provided depending on their battery of assessments,” said Probation Officer and 360 Program Manager Dini Peterson. “We go through and assess their risks and needs and strengths and then we apply based on their needs. We don’t want to over service either, so it’s good because it’s tailored to exactly what that individual needs.”

Each youth is then written an “individual prescription” of services Peterson said, such as being provided a mentor, transportation to school or appointments, mental health help or attending various groups focused on topics like job readiness and responsible living.

Needs of participants are assessed regularly throughout the program.

The program was found to be highly successful, they agreed. Participant feedback was collected upon the completion of programs.

“I’ve learned how to manage my emotions in a much better way. It used to be out of control, but I’m thinking before I act and it helps,” participant stated in a program review.

“This class has taught me to identify my emotions more in depth and how to help solve my issues if I have any,” another participant said. “With this information I have more self control and the ability to notice the problem and fix it.”

The other benefit to such programs is that they teach youth how to live within their own community, Hill and Peterson said.

“They’re here with their community with their family first and foremost. I don’t want to be trite but it really does take a village to raise a family,” Hill said. “We need families to help these children with their delinquent issues and we can help families.”

Placing local youth in a detention center would require sending them miles from their families and mental health workers, which can hinder progress, she added.

“It teaches them to cope with their situation because a lot of the kids do come from difficult home situations so rather than removing them from the home it’s teaching them how to get through what their going through while they’re in their home,” Peterson said.

The program has also been tailored to best fit the needs of the community, she added.

To make the program sustainable, juvenile court staff have been trained to run the 360 program and to train incoming staff. The newest evidence based practices are also always being evaluated and reviewed to best serve area youth, Hill said.

“I think sometimes you save a child. You literally do,” Hill said. “We’ve had some kids who were definitely going down the wrong path and end up straightening out and they finish their education. That’s big for a lot of kids just to finish high school but we do have kids who have gone on to college, to the military, to vocation schools and come back and talk to their probation officers and let them know how well they’re doing. Not everyone’s a success but we do see many.”

She added that the court also offers a Diversion Program, aimed at keeping youth ages 8 to 16 from entering or reentering the juvenile justice system. Parents who have concerns about their child’s delinquent behavior can contact diversion specialist Laura Koen-Apple by calling the circuit court.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.


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