Diversion program announced for youth in some criminal cases
DETROIT (AP) —
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office and a community-based nonprofit are partnering on a juvenile diversion program that will serve as an alternative to charging children and teenagers with minor property damage, theft, simple assault and similar offenses.
Young people will meet with authorities and victims of their crimes as part of the “Talk It Out” program to develop solutions short of formal charges, Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Monday.
Counseling and other services could be part of those solutions. A juvenile will only be considered for acceptance once in the program.
The Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center is working with the prosecutor’s office.
Assistant prosecutors will evaluate new delinquency complaints to determine which cases are appropriate to recommend for the program. Eligible cases must have no more than one victim, and a parent or guardian of the juvenile must be willing to transport that child to mediation meetings. Victims must agree to the referral and mediation process before cases are accepted.
“This program gives crime victims a voice and opportunity to impact the lives of the youth who victimized them,” Worthy said in a release. “Collaboratively, it is our hope that if they successfully complete the recommended course of action, fewer juveniles will find themselves charged with a delinquency offense that may result in a delinquency record.”
The prosecutor’s office juvenile division handles thousands of delinquency cases each year and many of those cases go to court, Worthy’s office said.
Young people charged criminally may face school suspensions or expulsions and loss of college scholarships or denial of college admissions. They also may be required to list a juvenile delinquency record on job or military applications.