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AN EXEMPLARY PROJECT - JUVENILE DIVERSION THROUGH FAMILY COUNSELING: A PROGRAM FOR THE DIVERSION OF STATUS OFFENDERS IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

NCJ Number
32026
Author(s)
R BARON; F FEENEY
Date Published
1976
Length
132 pages
Annotation

THE DEVELOPMENT, OPERATIONS, AND RESULTS OF THE SACRAMENTO COUNTY DIVERSION PROJECT FOR JUVENILES ARE DESCRIBED, AND GUIDELINES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SIMILAR PROGRAMS IN OTHER COMMUNITIES ARE OFFERED.

Abstract

THE SACRAMENTO DIVERSION PROJECT PRESENTS AN IMPORTANT NEW APPROACH TO A CONTINUING PROBLEM: HOW TO DEAL EFFECTIVELY WITH RUNAWAYS, YOUTH BEYOND CONTROL OF THEIR PARENTS, UNMANAGEABLE YOUTHS, AND OTHER TROUBLED ADOLESCENTS. THIS HANDBOOK HAS BEEN PREPARED TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES WHICH WISH TO CONSIDER SIMILAR PROGRAMS. IT PROVIDES DETAILED INFORMATION CONCERNING THE DESIGN AND OPERATION OF A FAMILY CRISIS COUNSELING PROGRAM. THE PROGRAM CONCEPT, ORGANIZATION, AND OPERATIONS ARE FIRST DESCRIBED. IT IS NOTED THAT THE SACRAMENTO 601 DIVERSION PROJECT BEGAN AS AN EXPERIMENT DESIGNED TO TEST WHETHER JUVENILES CHARGED WITH THE 601 OR STATUS OFFENSE COULD BE HANDLED BETTER THROUGH SHORT TERM FAMILY CRISIS COUNSELING AT THE TIME OF REFERRAL THAN THROUGH THE TRADITIONAL PROCEDURES OF THE JUVENILE COURT. THE APPROACH DEVELOPED RELIED ON SUCH FEATURES AS IMMEDIATE, INTENSIVE HANDLING OF CASES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER REFERRAL (MOST WERE HANDLED WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR OR TWO); CREATION OF A PREVENTION AND DIVERSION UNIT HANDLING CASES FROM BEGINNING TO END; AVOIDANCE ENTIRELY OF FORMAL COURT PROCEEDINGS; AND AVOIDANCE OF JUVENILE HALL THROUGH COUNSELING AND THE USE OF ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENTS THAT ARE BOTH TEMPORARY AND VOLUNTARY. TYPICALLY, AFTER REFERRAL OF A 601 MATTER IS RECEIVED, THE PROJECT ARRANGES A FAMILY SESSION TO DISCUSS THE PROBLEM. THROUGH THE USE OF FAMILY COUNSELING TECHNIQUES A SPECIALLY TRAINED PROBATION OFFICER SEEKS TO DEVELOP THE IDEA THAT THE PROBLEM SHOULD BE ADDRESSED BY THE FAMILY AS A WHOLE. ALL SESSIONS AFTER THE FIRST ARE VOLUNTARY AND FAMILIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO RETURN FOR FOLLOW-UP DISCUSSIONS. A DISCUSSION OF PROJECT RESULTS IS PROVIDED. IT WAS FOUND THAT 601 CASES COULD BE SUCCESSFULLY DIVERTED FROM THE COURT USING PROJECT TECHNIQUES. THE NUMBER OF COURT PETITIONS, THE NUMBER OF INFORMAL PROBATIONS, THE NUMBER OF DAYS SPENT IN DETENTION, THE COST OF HANDLING, AND RECIDIVISM RATES WERE ALL LESS FOR PROJECT THAN FOR CONTROL CASES. A SIMILAR PROJECT WAS ESTABLISHED FOR 602 CASES, I.E., JUVENILE NON-SERIOUS CRIMINAL OFFENSES SUCH AS PETTY THEFT, DRUNK AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT, POSSESSION OF DRUGS, OR RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY. A DESCRIPTION OF THE ORGANIZATION, STAFFING, TRAINING, FUNDING, AND RESULTS OF THIS PROJECT ARE PROVIDED. IT IS NOTED THAT THE RESULTS FROM THIS EXPERIMENT WERE EVEN MORE ENCOURAGING THAN THOSE FOR THE 601 PROJECT. THE MANUAL NEXT OFFERS SUGGESTIONS TO COMMUNITIES CONSIDERING SUCH PROGRAMS. AMONG THE AREAS DISCUSSED ARE EVALUATING THE NEED FOR THE PROGRAM, DEVELOPING A PLAN FOR ACTION, BEGINNING THE PROGRAM, AND POSSIBLE PROBLEMS OF IMPLEMENTATION. SECTIONS WHICH DISCUSS TRAINING AND PROVIDE POINTERS FOR SUPERVISORS AND PROBATION COUNSELORS ARE ALSO INCLUDED. FINALLY, SIMILAR PROGRAMS INITIATED IN OTHER COMMUNITIES ARE DESCRIBED. THE APPENDIXES INCLUDE FIRST YEAR BUDGETS FOR THE 601 AND 602 DIVERSION PROJECTS, DATA FROM A SEVEN-MONTH FOLLOW-UP PERIOD, SAMPLES OF FORMS USED, A LIST OF CHARACTERISTICS OF FIRST YEAR PROJECT CASES, A LIST OF TRAINING RESOURCES, AND A FAMILY COUNSELING SYLLABUS FOR TRAINERS. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED)

Date Published: January 1, 1976