New Jersey County Seeks Alternative to Courts for Juveniles

If you could offer New Jersey juveniles’ an alternative to the court system and prison, wouldn’t you want to help them learn from their mistakes and become better members of society? This is precisely the reason that Hunterdon County is working together with Hunterdon Prevention Resources (“HPR”) in order to create a program that does exactly that.

The launch of the County’s Law Enforcement Adolescent Program (“L.E.A.P.) is geared towards serving adolescents who have committed minor crimes or are struggling with substance abuse or relational issues. The program’s objectives are to provide support and assistance to the juveniles and their families in order to decrease the number entering the legal system through criminal charges and the courts.

Part of the program includes rehabilitative services that help the teens curb their behaviors through counseling, assessments, screenings, and anger management classes to name a few. The ultimate goal of all this therapy and assistance is to give objective feedback to these juveniles that will help them reflect on their choices and the effects of those choices. Hopefully that type of guidance will lead to behavioral changes and a greater self-understanding that can help them in life and relationships.

The local law enforcement agencies are benefitted by being able to provide an alternative to criminal charges for youthful acts that lead to infractions. It also allows them to help in the process of bettering these youth through programs that will ultimately make our streets safer and individuals more productive to the community. The officers will take an interactive approach often communicating with the teen’s counselor and overseeing the community service hours and activities those youth are involved in.

Source: Hunterdon Review, “Hunterdon County to launch prevention program for juvenile offenders,” Jan. 14, 2013

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