Young, non-violent offenders get new option for staying out of trouble

Provided by WVLA staff
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POSTED: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 9:19am

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 7:21pm

Kids who commit small crimes like vandalism or burglary usually end up in a juvenile detention center. But now, there's the Evening Report Center for non violent offenders in East Baton Rouge.

The idea is to provide more options for young people who've been arrested, so they don't commit crime again. The program can hold between 10 and 13 children at a time.

"This is a group of kids that aren't low risk but this is a group of kids that could be returned to the community with some restrictions and some supervision in place," Gail Grover, Director East Baton Rouge Department of Juvenile Services, explained.

Up to 25 percent of detained youth may be eligible to participate in the ERC and return to the community with intense supervision and restrictions.

"Last year we had almost 200 kids who may have been eligible for the program if it was in existance. So maybe we won't reach the 200 in the first year but were sure hoping that we can reach as many as possible," Grover said.

Only students can qualify.

The main reason is DJS officials say most kids are getting in trouble right before or right after school.

So the program makes school longer. Kids get picked up from class and brought to the ERC after school. Then a bus will bring them home.

"A lot of our kids are several years behind in school so this will give them an opportunity to catchup to get some assistance where they need it," Deron Patin, detention manager, said.

The program uses things like comic books to help get kids interested in their education. The idea is to better prepare them for life after the program.

"I know many adults started off reading and developing a love for reading through comic books so we wanted to introduce that to our kids," Grover described.

Officials say the program won't work without the community's support.

"We need everyone on board saying this is what we are going to do. We are going to be behind it. Because we want to see this young man be successful," Patin said.

A child could stay in the program up to six weeks.

The erc is set to open up sometime at the end of the month.

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