Program Expanded to Dudley District Court
From the office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr.
WORCESTER – The District Attorney’s Office and the City of Worcester have received grants totaling more than $100,000 to expand a first-of-its-kind juvenile diversion program, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. and City Manager Edward Augustus announced Monday.
The District Attorney’s Office received a state grant of $73,000 to expand a juvenile diversion program it began piloting in November 2017. The program, the first in Massachusetts, assists youth charged with domestic assault to avoid detention and a criminal record while helping the victimized family heal.
“These are cases where the victims are often parents and they’re not looking for their child to be taken from their home,” Mr. Early said. “This program allows us to take a more practical, non-criminalized approach to helping these families. We have the leeway to use the compassion necessary to help these kids and their families and connect them to needed services in the city.”
The City of Worcester’s $30,000 grant will help them expand programming for kids and services for families.
“The City of Worcester is proud to be a part of this innovative juvenile diversion program which will connect families to the vital services they need,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “Investing in our youth by offering them a second chance at success will benefit both our city and our entire community.
During the two and a half months the pilot program was in operation in 2017, 11 families were referred for services from the Worcester Juvenile Court.
“Our juvenile court is our most important court. We can try to prevent a lifetime of involvement with the criminal justice system for these kids. Crime prevention at its best,” Mr. Early said.
The additional grant funds allow the program to expand to all five juvenile courts in Worcester County, including Milford, Leominster, Fitchburg and Dudley. Youths aged 12-17 charged with assault and battery on a family member or caregiver qualify for the diversion program, which holds off arraigning the juvenile for three months while the family is connected with services. If the service plan is being followed, the charge will be dismissed prior to arraignment and the juvenile will avoid having a criminal record.