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MPAL Success Story: Juvenile Court Diversion

The Manchester Police Athletic League (MPAL) is usually associated with after school enrichment programs for kids: cooking classes, martial arts, and Pokemon Pals. MPAL fills another significant community need by running the only accredited Juvenile Court Diversion program in the city of Manchester as well as the only program specifically designed to address youth at high risk for criminal and gang involvement.

The JCD is designed to keep juvenile offenders out of the court system. Juvenile Court Diversion has the opportunity to make an incredibly positive impact on the trajectory of kids' lives.

How It Works

After an arrest is made, the police review the case and refer the juvenile to MPAL JCD if appropriate.The juvenile meets with a community panel at MPAL, accompanied by a parent or guardian. Together, they meet with a trained intake worker where the family completes a drug and alcohol screening survey and is interviewed in order to assess what other issues might be present. The young person then meets with the panel to discuss the events which led to his/her arrest. The intake workers, along with the volunteer panel members, discuss the case and design a contract of consequences the juvenile must follow and complete within a 3-6 month period.

During this time period, the intake counselor ensures the juvenile is meeting the requirements of the contract. Consequences are tailored to the juvenile’s offenses and may include community service, apology letters, vision boards, referrals for counseling, anger management, digital content education, or even attending program classes at MPAL and reporting about them.

The goal is to support the juveniles by providing a wide network of resources and getting them involved in something positive that will help put them on the right path and keep them out of the traditional justice system.

JCD Goals

  • Maintain a program completion rate of 90% or higher (Currently 93%)
  • Maintain a recidivism success rate above the traditional justice system rate one year post completion.
  • Accommodate the increase of referrals due to the state's Probation Transformation initiative
  • Design a pathway of service for youth demonstrating behaviors that do not rise to the level of an arrest to intervene before they offend

Program Needs

The number of Juvenile Court Diversion cases MPAL sees on a monthly basis can be quite overwhelming. In addition to the number of cases they see, the intensity of the cases being referred have significantly increased. More violent and gang-related criminal activity cases are now being sent their way.

These changes have underscored for MPAL the significant lack of available resources in Manchester for youth with anger issues. They have also highlighted the increase in youth who lack strong social/emotional skills. MPAL is working hard with partner organizations to best serve these youth.

If you are interested in volunteering as a Diversion Panel Member, please apply here.

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