Longmont Program for Youth Offenders Nears One-year Mark
In an effort to address underlying issues of why juveniles commit crimes, Longmont police have been using a program that connects youth with services and provides the opportunity for the dismissal of charges.
The REWiND program, which stands for Rebuilding Expectations and Walking in New Directions, started in December. It brings together municipal court, probation, the Youth Center and the Department of Public Safety to serve 10- to 17-year-olds charged with violating a city ordinance that is a misdemeanor offense.
Crimes that would fall under the program’s purview include theft, fighting in public and possession of marijuana. Traffic-related offenses are not part of the program.
“We try not to rely on tickets as a first resort,” said Longmont police Sgt. Craig Mortensen. “We want to fix the underlying issues.”
If a juveniles commit a crime worthy of a ticket, police can send that ticket to a group made up of people from participating departments who will look at the circumstances and determine how to best meet the juvenile’s needs.
Sometimes, Mortensen said, the parents need support, or the family needs counseling, or the juvenile needs help with substance abuse.
The group will decide how to address the case. Initially, it most likely won’t go to court, he said. The juvenile might instead get the chance to participate in a restorative program, like the Longmont Community Justice Partnership. If the juvenile successfully completes a restorative program, the ticket and charge can be dismissed and the record sealed or expunged.
In the REWiND program, juveniles and their families can access substance abuse and mental health counseling, parenting development, school supports and more.
“We wanted to build upon (restorative justice) to provide intervention and services for a greater number of our juveniles,” said Rigo Leal, a city spokesman. “REWiND provides opportunity for positive life outcomes and for youth to learn from their mistakes.”
No new staff were hired for the program, Leal said, but existing resources were “repurposed.”
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, email@example.com