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'Second Chance Program' aims to help Indianapolis' youth

Posted at 10:08 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 21:31:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It is a partnership showing it takes a village. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis are embarking on a pilot program aimed at low-level, non-violent juvenile offenders to give them a literal second chance.

Referrals officially began Thursday for the “Juvenile Second Chance Program.” The hope is that hundreds, if not thousands of the city’s young people walk through the doors at Marion County Boys & Girls Clubs.

The idea is to invest in young people with the goal of changing behaviors rather than punishing. It is geared towards first time offenders or those with minimal contact with the juvenile system. Eligibility will be on a case-by-case basis.

“When I look at some of the problems that we face, especially as it relates to gun violence and the age of people who are involved gun violence, we have to start reaching kids earlier. And what we’ve previously been doing has not produced the results that we want,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said.

The prosecutor’s office is paying for a “one-year standard membership fee” to the Boys & Girls Club for young people eligible for the program.

Juveniles with offenses like vandalism, curfew violations and possession of marijuana are some examples of whom could be referred to join the program.

For juveniles who successfully complete the program, a referral letter will be given to them ahead of a delinquency filing stating they are getting a second chance.

“Often times we hear, ‘What are you guys doing for the community?’ as an elected official you hear that a lot, as community leaders you hear that a lot and so I think this is going to be an example,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis CEO and Executive Director, Maggie Lewis said.

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