For Immediate Release
Contact: Lindsay Corcoran (508) 368-7252 or (774) 670-8811
WORCESTER – The District Attorney’s Office and the City of Worcester have received a state grant totaling more than $36,000 to contract services with Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. (YOU, Inc.) to continue the office’s Juvenile Diversion Program, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. announced.
The program, the first in Massachusetts, allows juveniles charged with domestic assault to avoid detention and a criminal record while helping the victimized family heal. Worcester will provide participants access to Recreation Worcester programs, offering curriculum-based learning focused on athletics, arts, and academics.
“We not only want to reduce crime, but resolve the underlying issues. This grant will offer case management, direct support, intervention, and referrals for services to address the unmet needs of the youth and their families,” Mr. Early said
The program has nearly a 90 percent successful completion rate, with a recidivism rate under 5 percent.
“It is astounding how effective the program has been, despite the global pandemic. I regularly connect with others via zoom, assisting them in becoming more effective communicators, empathic family members and stronger advocates for their needs,” said diversion coordinator, Ivette Reyes.
“Our juvenile court is, in many ways, our most important court. We can try to prevent a lifetime of involvement with the criminal justice system for these kids,” Mr. Early said. “It is crime prevention at its best.”
Operating in all five juvenile courts in Worcester County, including Worcester, Milford, Leominster, Fitchburg and Dudley, youths aged 12-17 charged with assault and battery on a family member or caregiver qualify for the diversion program, which postpones arraignment for three months while the family is connected with services. If the service plan is being followed, the charge will be dismissed prior to arraignment and the juvenile will avoid having a criminal record.