The city of Houston and Harris County have created a pilot program to divert young, low-level offenders from prison. Geared to assist youths who commit offenses on school property, it provides options for treatment and “wraparound services.”
What are wraparound services?
According to Masters in Special Education, wraparound services involve members of a child’s natural support group and agency professionals joining to form a treatment team for helping a child overcome problematic mental health or behavioral issues.
“A psychological professional meets with the child for assessment and to determine a diagnosis,” Masters in Special Education says.
“Therapeutic goals will be set, along with measurement criteria, and the team will work with the child across the settings of home, school and community in order to teach new behaviors, monitor progress and revise the treatment plan as current objectives are met.”
A new approach to youth criminal offenses
Wraparound services are a far better alternative than what usually arises when youths commit offenses on school property.
In most case, juveniles are arrested, which leads to court expenses. And court proceedings are followed by short stays in supervised detention and confinement facilities.
The constructive diversion program is especially needed in Harris County.
According to state data reported by Houston Public Media, Harris County accounted for around 25 percent of all youths sent to juvenile prison in Texas last year.
Known as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) initiative, the program was launched by My Brother’s Keeper (MBK)—an initiative of the city’s Health Department and the office of Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
Instead of pre-trial interventions, the LEAD program halts the legal process before it begins by diverting would-be arrestees before they’re handcuffed and charged by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Harris County and the city of Houston will leverage their resources to provide coordination of services to these youths. They chose Attucks Middle School to launch the pilot program since the school had over 40 student arrests in the past year alone—the highest number in the Houston Independent School District.
Director of the Houston Health Department, Stephen Williams, said providing mental and behavioral health services to youths at the point of entry to the juvenile justice system “will more likely address the deeper root causes that promoted the behavior in the first place.”
The Neal Davis Law Firm firmly believes in supervision, intervention and leniency for juvenile offenders, and we applaud this effort.