What is Diversion?
The Diversion Office provides intervention and prevention services for youth, ages ten to seventeen, and adults who have demonstrated pre-delinquent/delinquent behavior. Referrals for diversion services may come from a variety of agencies including Municipal Court, County Courts, Restorative Justice, Probation Department, Department of Social Services, Schools, Parents, etc.
What are Diversion’s Goals?
Diversion is structured to concentrate on the positive development of youth and adults. The program is a successful method for teaching responsibility and providing consequences to those persons in the early stages of criminal behavior thus helping to reduce future law breaking activity.
In addition, Diversion:
- Holds individuals accountable for their actions
- Provides a firm response to the participant’s unlawful behavior
- Refers families to appropriate support agencies and programs within our community
- Examines the needs of the community
- Provides education on specific topics related to criminal violations
What Juvenile Programs does Diversion Offer?
SHOP – Stealing Hurts Other People
SHOP is a four hour educational seminar (spread over two days) which discusses various issues related to theft, including who it affects both directly and indirectly. Participants will gain an understanding of the risks and potential losses to themselves, their family and the community. The program stresses the importance of avoiding these types of situations, how to handle peer pressure and why they don’t want this type of offense on their criminal record. The participants are also provided with a better understanding of the law and how they can be held accountable if they are with someone who is committing this crime.
The participants may hear from a loss prevention specialist who describes the impact theft has on local businesses and a law enforcement officer who discusses why they must enforce the laws pertaining to theft and the importance of making better decisions. Participants may also get an opportunity to hear a testimonial from an individual concerning the impact crime has had on their life and the life of their family.
REACH – Respect Education Attitude Choices Hope
REACH is a four hour educational seminar (spread over two days) in which participants learn about important life skills and character development. Each topic is discussed in detail and participants are given the opportunity to express their viewpoints. They will also participate in a variety of class exercises designed to help them understand how their choices now have both immediate and long term impact on their lives. For example, a criminal record as a juvenile can stop them from securing a good job in the future.
Volunteers from our community serve as guest speakers on the various topics. This includes a testimonial from an individual concerning the impact crime has had on their life and the life of their family. A law enforcement office will emphasize the seriousness of crime and how these acts often lead to incarceration.
Upon conclusion of the seminar, participants will have gained an understanding of each topic and how they are linked together with the hope that they choose to apply what they learned to their lives.
Project TARGET is a multi-session class designed to educate youth who have been charged with a weapons offense such as carrying knives, regulation of air guns, possession of a handgun by a juvenile or any other related type of offense.
The goal of this program is to teach juveniles the dangers and consequences of possessing or using a weapon, to learn to resolve conflict without violence and to increase their awareness of crime.
Numerous guest speakers from throughout Pueblo’s community volunteer their time to speak to the participants. These may include prosecutors who discuss the laws, the local coroner who speaks about the use of weapons, and a victim of crime involving a weapon. Participants may also hear a testimonial from an individual concerning the impact crime has had on their life and the life of their family.
TAKE CHARGE is a six month program that brings intensive case management, cognitive training, academic assistance and community involvement to those juvenile offenders at high risk for joining gangs.
The program takes a positive approach, encouraging self-esteem and teaching coping skills while providing individualized programs to address the needs of each youth. The goal is to provide enough positive contacts that the youth no longer feels the need for gang involvement and does no re-offend.
Youth participating in this program actively participate in activities through various community agencies including their local school, Boys & Girls Club, Inc., The Pueblo Workforce Center and others as needed.
•Restorative Justice focuses on repairing the harm done to the victim rather than punishment.
•Restorative Justice allows those most affected by the harm to participate in the decision making process of how to make the situation right.
•Restorative Justice emphasizes the importance of sharing perspectives, experiences, history, and hope for the future.
•Restorative Justice requires the active involvement of the community in restoring and maintaining justice.
Why is Restorative Justice Needed?
•When an offender takes responsibility for their actions, they have the ability to restore order and relationships in the lives they have disrupted.
•Punitive measures often have the effect of further discouraging those who need encouragement the most.
How does the program work?
If the offender meets the Restorative Justice criteria, contact is made by the Restorative Justice Office to offer the offender the opportunity to participate in the program as an alternative to the traditional court system. The offender must take responsibility and admit guilt for the offense committed. The program is a voluntary program, which means that at any time, the offender may opt not to participate in the program. In this case, the offender will be referred back to the court for further handling.
The Restorative Community Conference (RCC) may involve the victim as well as community members. A discussion regarding how the crime has affected them will take place. At the conclusion of the RCC, an agreement will be developed listing sanctions the offender must complete within a three month time frame. The sanctions may include, but are not limited to, a verbal or written apology, community service, and participation in educational programs offered within our community. The program is unique in that the sanctions can be creative and tailored to each individual and the crime committed.
Upon successful completion of the program requirements, the offense will not be filed in court. Should the offender become non-compliant with the program, the case will be referred to the court for further handling.
Who are the Stakeholders and what is their role in the Restorative Justice process?
•Have the opportunity to share their feelings about what happened
•Have a voice in how the offender can repair the harm
•Are able to move toward the process of forgiveness and healing
•Are held accountable for their actions by repairing the harm
•Are given the opportunity to be a part of the solution
•Have the opportunity to develop an understanding of the impact their actions have on others
•Are encouraged to see themselves as important members of our community
Families and Community Members
•Have the opportunity to share their feelings about the crime that was committed
•Have a voice in how the offender can repair the harm
•Have the opportunity to be a part of a process that builds stronger communities
•Have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with Pueblo’s youth and the community