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Youth Service Bureau continues to succeed in Maplewood
Capping off a successful fifth year of crime prevention education for juvenile offenders, it was announced that the Youth Service Bureau is now set to return for a sixth.
The Maplewood City Council unanimously renewed funding for the Bureau at its Monday, April 14, meeting, thereby giving kids who have had contact with police a chance to start over. It will cover the 2014 calendar year and will cost $27,295.50 to continue their services.
The level of success, according to Police Chief Paul Schnell, has been great thus far. “The vast majority of these kids successfully complete the program, and then we never see them again. That is the true test.”
The numbers back that up. According to Mary Planten-Krell, the Bureau’s executive director, only 9 percent of kids admitted into the program commit a repeat offense. This has shown to be a more effective method than alternate forms of diversion education, such as the well-publicized “scared straight” method.
“You can scare a kid for a little while, but research shows that it doesn’t usually change behavior long-term,” Planten-Krell said.
The city council agreement with the Youth Service Bureau includes a new requirement that the agency provide “a range of qualitative and quantitative reports to the (police) department.” This includes keeping tabs on the juveniles after they leave the crime prevention education program
“We want to make sure that we’re being as effective (as possible) with all kids, as well as things like transportation and reaching out to families,” Schnell said. “We wanted to evaluate some things this year. “
First-time juvenile offenders are commonly enrolled in the program in an attempt to divert the behavior displayed in whatever crime they may have committed in the past.
Planten-Krell outlined a number of the program’s benefits.
“It’s cheaper than sending kids through court, and it’s usually more timely,” she told the council members. “Adults will remember things for months and months, but kids may not remember. With this program, kids have the incident fresh in their memory.”
The Bureau began services in Maplewood in 2009 and gave the city a new service option to help young people who have broken the law. If a child is admitted into this program, it is an alternative to going to juvenile court. If kids fail to complete the program, they are then sent to juvenile court and go through the regular criminal prosecution process.
The list of class options is extensive and depends on the offense, but includes bully awareness, chemical awareness and peaceful alternatives to conflict. It also offers counseling services to both the youths and their families.
Tim Faklis can be reached at (651) 748-7814 or at firstname.lastname@example.org