Seattle Starts Diversion Program For Youth Accused Of Domestic Violence

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Seattle has launched a new program aimed to keep young people out of the criminal justice system and give them a chance to take part in anger management and other services designed to keep them out of trouble, reports the Seattle Times.

Family Intervention and Restorative Services started yesterday in a collaboration among the city, the King County Prosecutor’s Office, King County Superior Court and the county’s Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said, “We want to keep young people out of the juvenile-justice system and also offer help to parents.”

Juveniles who are arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, which prosecutors say accounts for 30 percent of their bookings, can choose to participate in the program rather than going the traditional route of court hearings and a potential criminal record. Instead of going into a locked cell, juvenile offenders will be directed to “cool down” in an area of the detention center. There, seven cells have been converted into unlocked rooms with a common area that has murals on the wall, comfy chairs, and social workers available 24/7. From there, they will be entered into a nationally recognized intervention program for teens and their families called Step Up, which aims to teach young people healthy communication and coping skills. Prosecutors said the program is modeled after the Pima County, Az., Domestic Violence Alternative Center. The Arizona County saw juvenile domestic-violence bookings plummet from more than 1,000 annually to just 82 in 2012.

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