Lighthouse Youth Services' Civic Justice Corps program in Cincinnati is one in a national network of about 20 projects that recruit returning juvenile offenders, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. About 35 young people have participated in the year since Lighthouse won a $1.35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor; 25 are still involved. They've completed community service projects and moved onto part- or full-time work, and in some cases, college.
This program is the type vital to providing just enough hope and opportunity to young people trapped in drug-and-gun cultures in many urban neighborhoods, advocates say. Lighthouse provides support such as academic tutoring, counseling and bus tokens. The funnel is a nonprofit called Lawn Life, owned and operated by a former juvenile offender. The 14 original justice corps programs around the U.S. have succeeded, dropping one-year recidivism rates for participants to 10.2 percent, compared to Ohio's 24.2 percent in 2009, the state's lowest in the eight previous years. Ohio's three-year recidivism rate for juvenile offenders released in 2007 was 49.1 percent, meaning they were back in prison within three years of their release and taxpayers are again supporting them. In 2011, the average daily cost for a youth in Ohio Department of Youth Services custody was $442.