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Diversion

The Diversion Program accepts first time offenders who are charged with misdemeanor or unruly offenses. Felony referrals require the approval of the Judge. A variety of complaints are referred to the Diversion Program. Examples of complaints referred are trespassing, criminal damaging, criminal mischief, curfew, menacing, drug/alcohol complaints, petty theft, arson, sound amplification, obstruction of justice, falsification, telephone harassment, disorderly conduct, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, littering, truancy, and a variety of incorrigible/unruly complaints.

A contract with specific conditions for the youth and parent is devised. The conditions of each youth's contract are developed based on the complaint and the discussion that takes place during the first appointments, which includes the youth, parent/guardian, and the Diversion Counselor. The conditions may include: mental health counseling, restitution for damages, letters of apology to victims, research papers, "thinking papers" (what have they learned from this experience), viewing of prevention films, skill classes, Jesse Program referrals, and Substance Abuse Education Program referrals.

Prevention films, skill classes and behavior charts are utilized to provide the youth with the tools necessary to develop a better understanding of oneself and empathy for others through positive lawful activities. The main skills taught are problem solving/decision making, resolving conflicts/managing anger, self-esteem issues and empathy for others.

The Diversion Program also makes referrals to outside agencies when necessary. Examples of outside referrals include Firelands Center Substance Abuse Education Program, fire prevention/education programming, and mental health counseling at various community agencies.

Skill Classes

Skill classes are offered by the Diversion Unit as a disposition for court involved youth. Most youth are ordered by the Judge or Magistrate to attend and complete specific skill classes as part of their disposition. Other youth are referred to the classes as a part of their diversion requirements. These skill classes are offered and taught by the Juvenile Diversion Counselors on a monthly and as needed basis.

The skill classes are: Actions/Consequences, Anger Management, Job Skills, Shoplifting, Thinking Error and Truancy Prevention. Parents are required to attend the Truancy Prevention class with their child. Each skill class provides the youth with positive alternatives to dealing with anger, decision-making, conflict management, problem solving, communication and many other social skills.