Girls in trouble with the law in Orange County, Ca., are being taught how to act, dress and even salsa as part of a project to boost their self-esteem and provide them with the basic social skills and support they will need to lead productive lives, says the Los Angeles Times. The Orange County Probation Department, with a coalition of nonprofit groups, yesterday announced the a “Mission Possible” program, which sponsors hope will stem the rising crime and recidivism rates among girls ages 12 to 18. “It’s an exploding population,” said Thomas Wright, chief deputy probation officer for the county’s juvenile facilities. He estimated that there had been an average of about 200 girls in custody at any given time over the last year–a big jump from the 20 or so girls he was handling five years ago.
The majority are accused of burglary and car theft, followed by prostitution and drug offenses. Mission Possible is modeled partly after a similar program for boys, but is more of a composite of several programs that have proved successful in the past. Seed money was provided by the private Weingart Foundation. The estimated annual cost is about $300,000.