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Greene County is Looking for Alternatives to Juvenile Detention

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/greenecoun_847.mp3

Greene County is working to find better ways to help its youth who are in trouble. This is the second year the county has been working through the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative. KSMU's Jana Greer tells us about the program's progress and future plans.

Greene County is one of three counties in Missouri that have funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to explore alternatives to juvenile detention. The foundation works across the country to improve the odds that delinquent youth can make a successful transition into adulthood. The committee for the program has spent the last year researching alternatives to detention by looking at other cities with the program in place.

Marie Swope is the Superintendent of Juvenile Detention in Greene County. She says that after researching the other cities, there is one program in which the county is interested in.

The program would be available to youth who commit a small crime or have problems at school or home.

Along with looking for alternatives to juvenile detention the initiative includes many strategies to improve the system. It looks at improving the conditions of the detention center, collaboration with the community, using numbers and statistics to understand delinquent youth, and moving them through the system more efficiently.

Roseann Bentley is an Associate Commissioner in Greene County and a member of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Cabinet. She says alternative programs would have a different impact on youth.

Bentley says that it's ultimately the decision of the child to make a life change.

The committee will continue to research and reform the juvenile detention system and is hoping to have many new alternatives to detention available at the end of next year.