The Community Justice Program is staffed by three Community Justice Officers and supervised by the Community Justice/Detention Director.
The Community Justice Program operates under the philosophy of Balanced and Restorative Justice. Crime causes harm to individuals and the community at large, creating an obligation by the youth to make things right. By working in the area’s of Surveillance, Community Service and Aftercare, we hope to hold the offender accountable to repair harm with meaningful community service and provide a productive, safe transition back into their community.
Keeping the Community Safe
The reality of our justice system is that the offender eventually returns to the community from which they came. Surveillance is one way in which the youth is held accountable to their curfew and probationary rules helping to keep the community safe. Community Justice Officers will visit with the youth and family in the home to address any relevant issues.
Youth involved in residential programming and on probation can be referred for school and evening surveillance. Evening surveillance is done at various times during the week and on weekends. The frequency of surveillance is based on staff assessment of risk factors for each youth.
Repairing the Harm
The Court may order a specific number of Community Service hours in an effort to repair the harm caused by the offender. Community Justice Officers will arrange for group projects. Spring summer and fall youth can be found at the juvenile center working in the garden. The produce is shared with the facility kitchen and area food banks.
Transitioning into the Community
A primary goal of community and restorative justice is to rebuild positive relationships between the youth and the community and between the offender and victims, where appropriate.
The Community Justice Officers begin individual case planning which focuses attention on what happens during and after residential treatment. A child and family team is developed consisting of parents or adult caregiver, community justice officer, the child’s advocate and the residential supervisor. This team will help identify risk factors that need to be addressed through aftercare programming and supervision.
Truancy has been clearly identified as one of the early warning signs of students headed for potential delinquent activity. We know that the pattern of habitual truancy is often established with children as young as first grade. The Community Justice Team has partnered with the Allegan Area Educational Service Area personnel to identify families where implementation of intensive services would effectively assist in the resolution of family barriers to school attendance. Skill building groups facilitated by Community Justice Officers are provided upon request.
Community Justice Group Sessions
The Community Justice Officers facilitate Why Try Groups with probationers during the summer for 10 weeks. In additional to the Why Try curriculum youth participate in music therapy with a contracted therapist and Prime for Life group facilitated by the prevention team from Allegan County Community Mental Health.
This group works with males and females between the ages of 13-16, currently involved with the court, living in the community, and in need of additional community based support.