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Career Development Program Influences Positive Change in Adjudicated Youth

Northshore Technical Community College in Greensburg, La., started a career development program in the fall of 2011 for adjudicated youth, youth found by a judge to have committed a violation of criminal law and currently under the supervision of the Office of Juvenile Justice within their community, that has set eight children on a path to success through guidance, education and encouragement. 

“Our program has given these youth a chance to focus and excel in areas they’re interested in,” said Sharon Hornsby, dean of the Florida Parishes campus. “Their excellent grades and strengthened confidence are rewarding for everyone involved, and you can see the difference it makes in these kids.”

Through the program and a grant from Models for Change, these youth had the opportunity to enroll in educational programs at Northshore Technical Community College and gain valuable skills in areas including veterinary medicine, mechanical engineering, certified nursing assistant and automotive technology. Students gained skills and certifications for promising careers and some have received job offers from major companies like Toyota and Volvo.

“Most of the time, the situation these kids find themselves in is not due to personality or ability, but instead to external factors like family dynamics or their surrounding environment,” said Karolyn Pinsel Harrell, program director. “When we’re able to provide mentorship to these kids, encourage them and show them that people want to see them succeed, they respond to that and strive to achieve their full potential. It’s incredible to see what they can do when given the opportunity.”

In some cases, judges overseeing progress of the individuals have said that because they showed such a great deal of success and commitment, they would not be required to enter into Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice secure care, which is reserved for youth deemed by a judge or by OJJ to be a risk to public safety and/or not amenable to treatment in a less restrictive setting. Youth housed in OJJ secure care facilities attend school and are constantly under direct supervision.

Youth participating in the career development program are 16-22 years old and are considered “low-risk.” The program aims to steer them in the right direction and prevent them from penetrating deeper into the juvenile justice system.

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.