Deschutes Co. DA launches young adult diversion program for 1st time offenders

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The Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel on Thursday announced a new pre-charge diversion program for young adults that gives first-time offenders a chance to redirect their lives toward a more positive pathway.

The “Deschutes County Emerging Adult Pilot Program” for those 18-24 will begin July 1st.

Program Description

The Emerging Adult Program rethinks how we engage with young adults involved in the criminal justice system, as traditional prosecution is not always the best answer.

This is particularly true for 18 to 24-year-olds, who are making critical life decisions even though, as research has discovered, their brains have not yet reached full maturity, which can lead them to make poor choices.

The District Attorney Office’s plan is to implement a pre-charge diversion program based on restorative justice methodologies that will offer young adults the opportunity to accept responsibility for their actions, while providing them with the resources and actionable steps needed to change their life course.

 “We all made decisions when we were younger that we might make differently today if we had to do it over again,” Hummel said in a release announcing the program. “Although we can’t offer ourselves or an emerging adult a ‘do-over,’ we can help young adults understand the impact of their actions on others, provide them with an opportunity to amend for their misstep, and take actions to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistake.

“What value does the criminal justice system provide if its response is only punitive, and that response hampers that person from ever having the opportunity to really succeed?”

The Emerging Adult Pilot Program is a collaborative initiative involving the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, volunteer community facilitators and defense attorneys, Deschutes County Behavioral Health Services, Thrive Central Oregon, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, and Community Solutions of Central Oregon.

This integrated, holistic team will provide 12 first-time offenders access to appropriate individualized community services to help them find the support, education and/or employment opportunities they need to redirect their lives onto a path for future success.

Volunteer Recruitment

For the Emerging Adult Pilot Program to be successful, the District Attorney’s Office needs community volunteers to serve as trained restorative justice facilitators. These facilitators will engage in conversation with these young adults about their charge and current life situation, and will work with them to establish an approved personalized intervention plan.

We are looking to recruit individuals that have a passion for helping young adults and want to make a difference in the lives of fellow community members. Volunteers will be trained, so no prior experience with the criminal justice system or the restorative justice model is required.

Volunteers must be:

·         At least 21 years old,

·         Open to criminal justice reform measures,

·         Able to commit to at least a half-day once a month on a Thursday to the program (July 2021 – March 2022), and

·         Participate in a multi-session Zoom training event starting in mid-June 2021.

Individuals with lived-experience in the criminal justice system are encouraged to volunteer for this opportunity.

To learn more about the Emerging Adult Volunteer Opportunity, community members are invited to join us for an information webinar on Monday, June 7, 2021 at 12:00 PM.

Register for this one-hour informational event through the link or QR code below:

https://www.cognitoforms.com/DeschutesCounty2/VolunteerRecruitmentEmergingAdultWebinarRegistration

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