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New mentoring program designed to curb repeat juvenile offenders

The goal for most juveniles in Philadelphia is to become productive members of society as an adult. Many make mistakes along the way though. That is how many of them learn. However, some make bigger mistakes than others and end up committing crimes, such as drug possession. If they are caught they will have to answer for their actions in the juvenile justice system. If they are convicted of the crimes they may face serious consequences that go beyond the punishment given to them by the court.

In accordance with the goal of ensuring juveniles become upstanding adults, law enforcement in one county is starting a mentoring program for juveniles convicted of crimes. The goal is to cut down on the number of repeat offenders. Right now about 20 percent of first time juveniles offenders will end up back in the system within one year of their first police contact. The program is designed to set these juveniles up with mentors who work with the child and their family to correct the cause of the behavior. The hope is that by correcting the behavior they will not end up with subsequent charges.

Overall, the juvenile law system is a little bit different than the adult system. The goal is to rehabilitate the juveniles instead of just punish them. Judges base their sentences on what is best for the child in hopes of changing the behavior. However, even though the goal of the juvenile law system is different than the adult system, it does not mean the consequences of a conviction are any less severe.

The consequences for juveniles go beyond just the ones handed out by a judge. A conviction can have long-term consequences as juveniles may have to put the convictions on school and job applications among other things. However, just like adults, juveniles are innocent until proven guilty and there are defenses available to them depending on the facts of their case.

Source: CBS Philly, "Montco officials hope mentoring can break cycle of juvenile crime" Brad Segall, June 24, 2014

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