According to the Juvenile Law Centers, 95 percent of the juveniles arrested annually in the United States are involved in nonviolent offenses. Depending on the way those charges are addressed by the accused (and his or her parents), the consequences for being found guilty of a crime as a juvenile can dramatically impact the life of the young person. Since there is so much life ahead of them, this is obviously problematic.
Recently it was announced that a nonprofit organization focused on assisting these young people in getting back on track following a criminal conviction as a juvenile, is going to set up shop in New Jersey. The organization, PathStone, received $1 million of a larger federal grant to do this. The program will benefit certain New Jersey communities that have a rate of felony crime that is higher than in surrounding communities as well as at least a 30 percent poverty rate.
Among other things the program could help participants by providing:
- Assistance obtaining a driver’s license
- Career development, including help with interviews and resumes
- Educational opportunities such as vocational training
- Life skills training
- Assistance in expunging the juvenile record
Under certain circumstances the program might also be a way for juveniles to avoid incarceration.
To qualify for assistance from the program, the person cannot have been convicted of a crime as an adult.
While the existence of a program such as this one could make a big difference for individuals trying to establish a life following incarceration for a crime committed as a juvenile, it is best to do what one can to avoid this situation completely. This generally involves the assistance of a lawyer who understands the juvenile system. In addition to helping to mount an aggressive defense against the accusations leveled, that person may also be able to help the young person get on a track that will not lead them into that same situation again.
Source: South Jersey Times, “$1 million grant to help former juvenile offenders in Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland,” Spencer Kent, Nov. 23, 2014