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Sábado, 04 de Abril de 2020

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King County juvenile diversion program expands to immigrant communities

Miércoles, 17 de Julio de 2019 | América del Norte, Estados Unidos
My Northwest
Noticia

What’s the best way is to keep kids from a life of crime? Most experts will tell you it’s to never have them enter the criminal justice system in the first place. That’s the idea behind juvenile diversion programs that offer kids arrested for misdemeanors a chance to avoid the court process.

Law enforcement, prosecutors key to juvenile justice reforms

“What we want to do is hold young people accountable without getting them caught up in the system with that criminal record, which can be so harmful for young people as they continue through life,” explained Shirley Noble, program manager of Partnership for Youth Justice, King County’s juvenile diversion program.

The CABS program

Among the diversion options in King County are Community Accountability Boards – or CABS. The boards are made up of volunteers from the community that hold hearings involving kids and their families.

The hearings last about 40 minutes, and involve asking questions about the offense, a kid’s engagement in school and community, their situation at home, and more. The hope is to get a full picture of what is going on in the child’s life, and come up with an accountability plan.

“We’re able to assign kids to community service hours, different types of groups or classes, order restitution, [and] order counseling,” Noble said, adding they can even order a kid to stay away from certain people and geographical areas.

A kid then signs a diversion agreement and has to abide by whatever consequences the board decides for up to six months. If they don’t, they end up in front of a judge for traditional court.

The CAB program has actually been around since the late 1950s in King County, and has expanded in recent years to more than a dozen separate community boards.

Taking part in diversion is a choice. The county sends a letter to the family and a final notice. If they don’t hear from the family, the case goes back to the prosecutor for filing.

“As I was thumbing through the cases of families that were not responding, I began to notice that when I looked at the ethnicity, I was seeing that a lot of these families were non-English speaking families,” Noble recalled.

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