Juvenile Diversion

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Volunteers for Youth Justice provides educational intervention and support to young people and their families who have been referred by area courts, school systems, and community agencies. For more information on the classes listed below, contact Shonda Houston-Dotie, Director of Youth Programs at (318) 425-4413, Ext. 104 or at shonda.houston@vyjla.org.

Youth Programs:

  1. Stamp Out Shoplifting (SOS) is targeted to juveniles with first-time theft offenses; however, repeat offenders are also accepted. Youth are required to attend a 4-hour workshop, complete community service, and personally deliver a written apology to the store manager or owner of the stolen item. Classes are on the third Saturday each month. Parents are required to attend.
    Fee: $40.00 Time: 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  2. Power of Choice (POC) is a 6 session series of classes which encourage youth participants to consider how their decisions impact their lives. A variety of topics are explored in POC, including peer pressure, goal-setting, sexual responsibility, substance abuse, and the importance of an education. POC classes are held the first three Tuesdays and Thursdays of the week. Each class lasts 1 1⁄2 hours. The program’s length provides an important opportunity for volunteers and staff to develop relationships with youth in order to better serve their individual needs. Parents are required to attend 6 Parent Power of Choice sessions along with youth.
    Fee: $40.00 Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
  3. Mentoring: Girls Empowered to Move Successfully (GEMS) is a mentoring program designed for court-involved girls. Girls participate in educational workshops, attend cultural events, and conduct community service projects. Girls are also paired with a female adult mentor from the community. Participants are asked to commit to the program for 1 year. (The current pilot school-based program operates at BTW High School with selected 9th grade girls on Mondays from 12:47 – 1:40 p.m.).
  4. Mentoring: Leadership Programs
    1. Linwood Public Charter Emerging Young Leaders – a program designed to expose middle school girls to opportunities that will increase their self-esteem, leadership skills, social skills, and provide a network of support. Meetings are held every Thursday from 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    2. Fair Park Leadership Academy – a program designed to provide a safe and supportive environment, whereby students are encouraged to improve their academic achievement, develop life skills, and embrace the servant leadership model for giving back to the school and community. Meetings are held every 3 weeks from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  5. Facts of Life Program is a character development curriculum. This program is designed to provide adjudicated juvenile offenders from the age of 12-16 with a method of decision making. This program shows participants what is required for a rewarding quality of life and at the same time providing participants with a set of guidelines for making choices by which a good life can be obtained and maintained. Youth are assigned to 8 sessions completed over a 4-week period. Classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
    Fee: $20.00 Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
  6. Teen Court is a program designed to offer non-violent, first-time juvenile offenders the opportunity to be judged by a jury of their peers, accept responsibility for their actions, and make restitution for their offenses. Youth volunteers serve as attorneys, bailiffs, clerks, and jurors. Referrals to this program are made by the District Attorney’s office. Any youth age 13 – 18 may volunteer. Court is held on most 4th Mondays of the month.
    Fee: $40.00 Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  7. Conflict Resolution Program is designed to address the dynamics that lead to violent behavior, with the goal of preventing school fight violations. Middle and high school students who have a first fight during the school year are eligible for the program. If a student chooses to participate in the program, and it is successfully completed within the time required, the student will avoid court appearance for that particular offense. Students are also able to shorten their out-of-school suspension days. Students may also be referred for prevention of a fight. Classes are held Monday-Friday @ Caddo Student Services (formerly Central Elementary School). Referrals come from area middle and high school principals.
    Fee: $50.00 School Fights; Free to Prevention Referrals Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Contact the Juvenile Diversion Office at: (318) 429-7647