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Diversion program helps community

Program gives local youth a second chance

Posted: February 5, 2009 4:50 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2009 1:50 p.m.
 
The year 2008 proved to be a busy one for the City of Santa Clarita's Community Court Diversion Program, with 35 percent of juveniles issued a citation by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station being referred to the Community Court Program.

Founded in 2006, the program provides first-time, non-violent juvenile offenders an alternative to the juvenile justice system. Young offenders are sentenced by a judge to make restitution through community service, attending diversion classes and paying financial penalties. If they complete the program, their crimes do not go on their record.

In 2008, more than 100 teens performed 1,100 hours of graffiti removal from Camp Plenty, Whites Canyon and Sierra Highway washes and performed community service with various nonprofit agencies. Community Court participants removed graffiti once a month to fulfill their community service hours in 2008.

The Community Court Diverstion Program also made a very significant impact on juvenile offenders. 100 teens were cited for traffic violations and sentenced to attend the City's Youth Grove in 2008.

Teens were required to listen to iPods containing the photos and stories of each of the 71 Youth Grove kids and write and essay on how the memorial impacted their lives. Through this graphic reminder, the City hopes youth will be more mindful and responsible when getting behind the wheel.

The City's Community Court also held reckless driving, traffic school and teen choice classes for 224 teens. In these lessons, youth learned the horrific consequences of reckless driving, the value of traffic safety and how to make positive life choices for their future.

The Court tried more than 200 criminal and traffic cases, gave 1,100 hours of community service and saw 219 participants complete the program.

Community Service is a major component of the Community Court Diversion Program, ensuring restitution is made in Santa Clarita and 2009 is scheduled to be another successfully preventative year.

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