HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Breaking the cycle and getting juveniles off the path of personal and community destruction, and onto a path of real growth and change, is among the loudest battle cries from High Point Police Chief Travis Stroud.
Stroud said drugs and guns were found after High Point police broke up a fight involving eight to 10 juveniles. Out of the group, four were charged with juvenile gun and drug offenses. For Stroud, the juvenile label is a concern.
“They are already going down this path. A lot of the names that we see are not new to us. As law enforcement, they are the same names we see over, and over, and over again,” Stroud said.
There have been 148 juvenile crime arrests in 2021, which is a 28% increase since 2017.
A big piece of the problem, according to Stroud, is getting children connected with community groups before they end up in the court system.
For example, Jerry Mingo is the president of the Burns Hill Neighborhood Association and helps create a space for juveniles to speak their minds and discuss topics such as mental health, and staying away from gangs.
“If you’re in jail one time, you’re likely to be a repeat offender. We’re trying to break that cycle; not to even get into that system,” Mingo said.
His group is funded by donations and holds monthly events for juveniles to speak, including one Saturday, Nov. 12. To contact Mingo, click here.
He wants to expand his reach to juveniles transitioning from the court system.
“I have tried to call to try and get some of the youths from the detention center, but you call one place, and they say the other is responsible – and vice-versa. We’re just going to have to focus more on how to get it done,” he said.
Community group awareness is done through social media, word of mouth, and community liaison reference. However, the message usually does not get to accused criminals until they are repeat offenders.
That’s where court counselors step in to help.
“We often direct parents to community resources as well as to the local mental health and social service agencies to assist them,” Chief Court Counselor Stan Clarkson said.
“They are programs that have been shown to work. We use those programs when we are in court. The judges will then order those kids into those programs.”
What role does the court counselor officer play in working to get a juvenile on the right path?
Court Counselors play a role when complaints are referred to our offices and/or when parents contact us for consultations when their children have gotten into conflicts with the law. Based on the information that they gather, Court Counselors can make program referrals to local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) programs and other programs. We often direct parents to community resources as well as to the local mental health and social service agencies to assist them
Is there someone specifically dedicated, as a liaison, for juveniles after they are released from the detention center to better help them get with a group?
Whenever a juvenile is placed in detention, they are assigned a juvenile court counselor who works with assessments conducted in the detention center to make the appropriate referrals and monitor their progress consistent with whatever legal status they are released under.
What does that process look like/how is it decided which organization or group would be best to help them?
Any juvenile who is subject to a delinquency complaint must go through the intake process for the complaint to be screened and evaluated by a court counselor. The court counselor conducts interviews with the juvenile, the parent, guardian, or custodian legally responsible for the juvenile, and other individuals who might have relevant information about the juvenile. The court counselor conducts a risk and needs assessment to help determine whether to approve or not approve a complaint for filing, as well as for use at disposition. These assessments contain information pertaining to the juvenile’s social, medical, psychiatric, psychological, and educational history, as well as any factors indicating the probability of the juvenile engaging in future delinquency. With the information gathered during the evaluation, the court counselor determines if the complaint should be closed, diverted, or approved for filing as a petition and brought before the court.
At the completion of an intake evaluation, if there is need for referral and follow-up, which may be accomplished without court intervention, the court counselor may retain the complaint and develop a diversion plan with the juvenile and the juvenile’s parent/legal guardian/custodian. This process diverts the juvenile from court while still holding the child and family accountable through a plan or contract. Regardless of whether juveniles are diverted from court, or must enter the juvenile justice system, court counselors often refer the youth/families, based upon their risks and needs, to local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council programs that have been shown to be evidence-based models. These programs are also utilized by judges as part of court-ordered dispositions of juvenile cases.
What is the counselor follow-up process, if any, to make sure said juvenile is going to said organization or program?
Programs typically follow-up about client progress and collaborate with the Court Counselors. The court counselor may follow up a range of actions from contacting the client and family to redirect and problem solve. If there is an active complaint or court supervision status, the situation may involve following up with court review.
The Juvenile Justice Service Directory provides juvenile court counselors with an inventory of programs and services in which to refer juveniles. Standardized information has been collected on about 1,4000 active programs/services ranging in type — basic needs to long-term residential. The Service Directory is available online for law enforcement, court officials, parents, school officials and other local stakeholders.