The Delinquency Prevention Council has undertaken several major initiatives for preventing/reducing juvenile delinquency. These programs were selected because they are research-based, proven effective at reducing/preventing delinquency, and they served all the functions of the restorative justice approach to juvenile crime.
Restorative Justice Programs
The restorative justice programs adopted in Jefferson County include community service, restitution, victim offender conferencing, teen court, mentoring, and the First Offender Program. Over 150 youth are served annually through the restorative justice programs.
Over 85 percent of youth on court orders are required to perform community service as part of their order. Community service gives youth the opportunity to give back to the community, make amends for their action, and develop assets. Youth who cause victims monetary loss are ordered to make monetary restitution.
Victim Offender Conferencing
This program gives victims, offenders, and other individuals affected by crime the opportunity to work together to address the consequences of crime. The process allows those affected by crime to come together in a neutral environment to discuss how they have been affected. The process encourages offenders to accept responsibility and recognize how their actions have affected the victim, family members, and the community. How to repair the harm caused is discussed, and the process usually results in a formal agreement between the offender and victim about how the offender will repair the harm caused.
In April 1998, Project Join expanded with the assistance of another federal grant to include a Teen Court program. First time and minor repeat offenders many have their cases heard and be sentenced by a jury of their peers.
To participate in Teen Court, the offender must admit guilt. Parents must accompany the offender to the hearing and testify. Parents must also agree to enforce the Teen Court sentence as necessary. Juveniles must be sentenced to minimum of five community service hours and three jury terms. In addition, juveniles sentenced for underage tobacco and alcohol violations must attend educational classes. If the juvenile successfully completes the sentence, the charge is dismissed and will not appear on his/her juvenile record.
Completed a cost-benefit analysis the teen court program. The analysis revealed a net present value of $75,400 to Jefferson County, and the authors recommended not only the continuation of the program, but its expansion.
In 2002 the Council received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to implement a juvenile mentoring program. The program matches adults with at-risk youth in a one-to-one mentoring relationship.
First Offender Program
This is a four-week educational program for first-time and minor repeat offenders. Topics include victim empathy, conflict resolution, anger management, justice system, ATODA issues, and developmental assets.
Partnering with local school districts
The Council and the Fort Atkinson School District have partnered to provide services designed to keep youth in school.
Youth who have been expelled, or who are in danger of being expelled, must perform community service as a condition to remaining in, or getting back into, school. Some youth also are required to complete an AODA/lifeskills class as a condition to remaining in or returning to school. This program was developed because research from six Wisconsin school districts revealed that expelled youth who participated in community service programs were more likely to return to school and then stay in school than those who did not perform community service.
This program is now available to any Jefferson County school district.
Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant
The Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded Opportunities, Inc. a $95,500 Drug-Free Communities matching grant for the Jefferson County Delinquency Prevention Council. The grant was one of 176 new grants totaling $17.1 million awarded to community coalitions across the country. The goal of the grant is to encourage local coalitions is to work together to prevent and reduce drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse among youth.
The Drug-Free Communities Program provides grants of up to $500,000 over five years to community organizations that serve as catalysts for citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. The 176 new grantees were selected from 411 applicants through a competitive peer review process.
State Incentive Grant
The purpose of this grant, which ended on December 31, 2005, was to select and implement science-based substance abuse prevention and intervention curricula in the Jefferson County schools, alternative schools, and the community, including the Department of Human Services. Through the use of the grant funds, all Jefferson County school districts now have science-based curricula in their schools; the alternative schools are using science-based curricula, as is the Department of Human Services. In addition, Opportunities, Inc. was able to purchase model two model curricula to offer as a community-based service. One of the programs is a substance abuse prevention curriculum aimed at middle and high school youth. The other is a program that involves entire family participation and is designed to enhance parenting skills. Both programs are offered as a fee for service program.
Community Education / Other Projects
- Annual Children's Share and Care Fair in Fort Atkinson
- Developed Spanish language growth chart
- Published age-appropriate development charts for parents and service providers
0-5 Year Olds Development Chart (PDF)
6-8 and 9-11 Year Olds Development Chart (PDF)
Middle School and High School Development Chart (PDF)
- "Handbook for Help for Families of Children Ages Birth to Five" PDF (English) (Español)
- Educational programming for community members, including "Gangs of Jefferson County", "Drug Recognition", "Engaging Youth in Youth/Adult Partnerships", "Grantwriting", and "Engaging the Latino Community"
- Researched why youth drop out of school
- Researched extent of gang presence in Jefferson County
- Developed informational brochure for parents/school personnel/service providers on Gangs in Jefferson County
Gangs in Jefferson County (PDF)
Warning Signs of Gang Activity (PDF)
- Implemented bullying prevention programming in area elementary schools
- Conducted adult focus groups on underage alcohol/drug consumption and strategies to prevent alcohol/drug use by teens
- Implemented science-based substance abuse prevention curriculum in all Jefferson County school districts
- Supported the creation of community coalitions in Fort Atkinson and Lake Mills. Provide continuing support to community coalition in Palmyra and Watertown
- Started the "Partners at Lunch" mentoring program in Jefferson County elementary schools in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Supported bringing Big Brothers Big Sisters to Jefferson County
- Developed "Juvenile Justice System" brochure (PDF) for parents
- Implemented a wraparound approach to working with families in the court system
- Instrumental in administering Search Institute Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey to youth in grades 7-12 since 1997.
- "Developed resources to educate the public and service providers on recognizing and responding to child abuse and neglect"
- Recognizing Pamphlet (PDF)
- Responding Pamphlet (PDF)