Audubon Area Community Services established the Serious and Violent Offenders Program to promote successful re-entry and reduced recidivism among youth offenders at higher risk of re-offending.
NOTE: THE SERIOUS AND VIOLENT OFFENDERS PROGRAM WAS CLOSED AFTER FY ’08 DUE TO INSUFFICIENT FUNDING. EFFORTS ARE OCCURING TO REESTABLISH THE PROGRAM. THE VIRTUAL CAP POSTING IS BEING CONTINUED TO HELP OTHER AGENCIES INTERESTED IN PROVIDING SIMILAR SERVICES.
Audubon Area Community Services (AACS) developed the Serious and Violent Offenders Program (SVO) as an intensive “after-care” program for serious and violent juvenile male offenders between the ages of 15 to 17. Referrals are received from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to enhance the DJJ Intensive Aftercare Program.
Youth typically have several different offenses prior to being sent to placement. Offenses may include selling and using drugs, beyond parental control, assault, and truancy. After out-of-home placement, DJJ then places youth at higher risk of re-offending in the reentry program so they can be monitored more closely and for a longer period of time.
A Family Service Worker (FSW) begins working with the youth’s parent(s) on parenting skills and transitioning the youth back into the home environment while the youth is still in placement. The FSW also makes visits with the youth while they are still in placement of may even work with the youth while he is on a weekend home visit with his family. The required hours of intervention time prior to the youth returning home is one and a half hours per week.
When the youth returns home, the FSW begins intensive in-home therapy with families. The intervention is tailored to meet individual needs and may include substance abuse prevention, independent living skills, behavioral/anger management skills, conflict resolution skills, and parenting skills. Once the youth returns home, the required hours of intervention time is face-to-face contact a minimum of every three days for five hours per week. FSW's aid clients in overcoming any barriers in education, training, job placement, etc. by connecting them to resources they need.
The U.S. Department of Labor offers an overview of reentry issues involving serious and violent juvenile offenders. The issue of mental health treatment needs among serious institutionalized delinquents is discussed in a report produced under U. S. Department of Justice funding.
A variety of information is available related to serving serious and violent juvenile offenders, such as:
The Juvenile Emotion Management Scale (JEMS): An Instrument Designed To Assess Emotion Self-Management Skills in Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders developed by Arthur McLin, Jr. Ph.D. – Individuals differ in the level of skill with which they can identify their feelings and the feelings of others, manage these feelings, and use the information provided by their feelings to motivate adaptive behavior in themselves. Identifying the skill of a serious and violent juvenile offender (SVJ) to manage his emotional state is important for intervention and rehabilitation, especially when the offender uses crime as a strategy in coping with a negative emotional state. McLin also identifies Emotional Intelligence as a framework to address the startling high proportion of high school students who are unaware of effective methods for solving social conflicts. For example, interpersonal disputes between teachers and students have increasingly resulted in aggravated assault and the use of lethal weapons.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) under the U.S. Department of Justice offers information on various topics related to providing services to serious juvenile offenders such as:
There are also numerous websites, reports and articles focusing on youth offender reentry issues such as:
Risk and Protective Factors Among Youth Offenders by Mary B. Carr from findarticles.com.
Youth Offenders Caught in Transition from The Washington Post describing some of the challenges faced with re-entry.
Summary of Best Practices in School Reentry for Incarcerated Youth Returning Home from the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.
Overcoming Barriers to School Reentry from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Transition, Reentry, and Aftercare from the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk. The Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment Process is featured as one model to evaluate youth independent living skills.
Second Chances from the Children's Court Centennial Communications Project provides profiles of 25 accomplished individuals who overcame pasts of juvenile delinquency. The publication may provide a source of motivation to youth currently in or leaving the juvenile justice system.
The SVO Program serves approximately 10 youth and their families each year.
Cathy Lamar, Counseling Services Director