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    Posted March 23, 2014 by
    Ontario, California

    Youth Court: An Alternative to the Traditional Juvenile Justice System

    In a bold move to help the youth of the Inland Empire, CA, Partners for Innovative Communities and Reach Out, a 501(c)3 non-profit, together with the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Ontario Police Department and local school districts launched and held the first “Youth Court” on March 18, 2014 at the Ontario Police Department headquarters. The new program aims to provide solutions, other than traditional juvenile sentencing, to first-time youth offenders who have committed minor infractions.

    “Our youth face many challenges such as poverty, trauma and easy access to drugs and alcohol. Youth courts provide a second chance for those who need additional support, and are a proven strategy. Youth Courts have a 10% habitual relapse rate vs. 75% for the traditional juvenile justice system. ” said Diana Fox, Executive Director of Reach Out. “This project has been two and a half years in the making, with the intention to replicate Youth Courts in other neighboring cities”.

    Youth Courts will allow youth who have committed minor offenses or have shown problematic behavior, to be sentenced by their peers. Modeled after the judicial system, it will provide an opportunity for first time offenders to clear their record, while remaining accountable for their offenses. The new system will cover cases of theft, possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, truancy, destruction of property, and bullying. Under the program, a variety of sentencing options such as community service, restitution, curfew, drug testing, victim awareness classes, counseling, tutoring, oral and written apologies, and mentoring will also be available.

    “I am in full support of this project with Partners for Innovative Communities and Reach Out as we work towards easing young lives towards success for those not only in Ontario but in neighboring communities. With the help of Youth Courts we will be diverting young people away from the juvenile justice system and towards a more positive future,” said Ontario Police Chief Eric Hopley.

    Partners for Innovative Communities (PIC) is a multi-sectoral coalition that works throughout San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties. The mission of PIC is to bring together people, resources and organizations to find solutions to community challenges and share resources for community driven issues. PIC’s backbone organization is Reach Out.

    Reach Out serves as a leader and conduit for strengthening families and communities by implementing innovative programs and policy changes necessary for building large-scale social change. For the past 45 years, Reach Out has worked to meet community needs by pioneering numerous innovative programs that serve over 20,600 people each year. These programs empower young people and adults to maximize their leadership and potential while increasing their quality of life.

    Reach Out is a 501(c)3, non-governmental, not-for-profit agency serving Southern California’s Inland Empire and Pomona Valley and receives funding from federal and county funders, local and national foundations, businesses and individual donors.
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