Tarrant County, Texas (where Fort Worth is located) has developed a new program for juvenile offenders that is aimed at youth charged with family violence involving non-intimate relatives. The program, the Youth Offender Diversion Alternative, or YODA, targets youth 17-25 who are charged with such crimes, and it provides intensive counseling to show participants how to make better choices in stressful situations or arguments. If the juvenile completes the program, the charges are dismissed and erased from his or her record.
The program is currently funded through a private grant from the Amon G. Carter Foundation. Public-private partnerships like this are often well-positioned to experiment with creative policy approaches while also limiting costs to taxpayers.
At this point, the 20 graduates of YODA have not committed another offense, and a preliminary study shows decreased aggression and substance abuse problems among participants. The participants also exhibit improvements in mental health and stability. So far, the program provides a reason to be optimistic.
The post above is reprinted with permission from the blog of Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a research institute in Austin, TX.
Jeanette Moll is a juvenile justice policy analyst in the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining TPPF, she served as a legislative aide in the Wisconsin Legislature, where she dealt with various policy issues, media affairs, and constituent outreach. Moll earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where she served on the board of the Texas Review of Litigation and interned with a federal bankruptcy judge, a Texas appellate court judge, and a central Texas law office.
*Photo by Flickr user JustinTL
Updated: March 21 2018