A local program takes a new approach to steer kids away from a life of crime

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A program just started at the new juvenile center called triage, where juvenile center workers walk youthful offenders through a number of assessments. It looks at everything from physical and mental health issues to food insecurity.

Workers use the time teens are in lockup to identify issues then help their families follow through in addressing them.

“Our detention numbers have gone down dramatically since we initiated the JDTA. I think it’s a good thing; we’re just trying to deal with kids in other facets rather than locking them up,” says Lee Ann Norris, Jasper County Juvenile Center.

Issues they’ve seen range from severe dental problems to the long-term impact of a trauma like the May 2011 tornado.

Workers are hoping to help those kids keep from committing future crimes, lowering numbers being locked up, and focusing more attention on other resources. The idea is tied to the adult treatment court and uses some of those methods in the hopes of duplicating that success.

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