City of Santa Clarita Community Court Program
In 2006, the Santa Clarita Community Court Diversion Program was implemented as an alternative to the juvenile justice system for first-time, non-violent, juvenile offenders. Juvenile offenders who commit non-violent petty crimes are sentenced by a judge to perform community service, make restitution, attend diversion classes, and pay financial penalties. If the juvenile completes the program, their crime does not go on their record. The program was started to help first-time offenders learn from their mistakes, and to ensure that youth perform their community service and pay their restitution here in Santa Clarita where their crime was committed.
City of Santa Clarita Teen Court Program
In September 2010, the Santa Clarita Teen Court Program moved under the purview of the City’s Community Court Program. This was due to the inability of the County courts to accommodate the Teen Court schedule and an increase in case load. Developed by L.A. County Court and Sheriff’s Department in 1995, Teen Court addresses misdemeanor crimes committed by juvenile offenders. Teen Court serves as an alternative to the traditional juvenile system, whereby suspected juvenile offenders are questioned and sentenced by a jury of their peers from local high schools. Offenders are sentenced to community service and restitution, if warranted. The Teen Court Program offers convicted juvenile offenders the incentive of having no incarceration or formal probation, and there is no conviction on their record if the sentence is completed within a six-month period.
The Community Court and Teen Court programs are successful because they are more than a slap on the wrist to the offender. The programs hold the juvenile offender accountable for their actions and through the educational component they have a better understanding of the impact of their choices. Furthermore, they are provided a second chance with no juvenile conviction on their record. The community benefits by a reduction in recidivism, enhancement of public safety, and development of good citizens. From 2008-2011, Detective Dan Finn reviewed cases for the Community Court program to gauge recidivism. Of the 340 criminal cases reviewed, there was a 14% recidivism rate for Community Court and an 8% recidivism rate for Teen Court.
The programs are a partnership between the City of Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the William S. Hart Union High School District.
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