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Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit gets $100,000 grant to help youth at-risk

Walker County is one of the recipients of a juvenile justice reinvestment grant totaling $100,000 from the Governor’s Office of Children and Families.

As part of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, Walker County, along with Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade counties, will be able to use the funds to help provide intensive services to at-risk children and families.

The new program being put into place by the grant funding will focus on families with children between 14 and 17 years of age that have been identified as being at risk for detention.

Juvenile detention centers hold juveniles charged as adults for such serious offenses as muder and rape, as well as repeat offenders for delinquent felony thefts, drug abuse, child molestation and other serious adult offenses. Children are at risk to return home with more serious behavioral problems because of their association with these serious offenders while in detention.

The average cost of ddetention for a single juvenile in a youth detention center is approximately $90,000 per year; the number is even more astounding when compared to the approximate $18,000 per year cost to keep a singlew adult in a secure detention facility.

Statistics show that while commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice and short-term treatment programs have the effect of protecting communities during the short periods of time that the delinquent child is out of the community, too many of these juveniles reoffend soon after returning to the home.

As it stands, the rate of recidivism for juveniles released from detention is very high in Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal and the Governor’s Office of Children and Families have made a commitment to reduce the costs of juvenile detentions and reduce this recidivism rate by offering grants to counties to fund evidence-based programs and services that have been proven to be effective in preventing delinquent behavior.

Walker County applied for the grant on behalf of the judicial circuit with the support of and assistance from the Juvenile Courts, the Georgia Departmetn of Juvenile Justice and Lookout Mountain Community Services. This grant was one of seven awarded out of 13 applicants throughout the state.

The 11-month grant began August 1, 2013 and will run through June 30, 2014. If, by that time, the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit has seen as 15 percent reduction in felony commitments and short-term program detentions by juveniles, then future similar grants may be made available.

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