Diversion Program That Brings Young Offenders Victims Together to Avoid the Judiciary: ‘It’s a Great Gift’ – WCCO

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) – We have heard a lot lately about young people who commit crime and are placed back in society. And we have heard indignation from the victims.

There is a program with the Eden Prairie Police Department that brings offenders and victims together. It’s called Diversion. The goal is to keep children and young adults out of the justice system and help them understand how their actions hurt someone.

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WCCO found out on its own what impact it has had on many lives.

Letters of apology and apology fill a folder.

“Getting this wakeup call was almost like a blessing in disguise.”

“We would like to offer an apology to a lot of people for a foolish and immature thing we did last summer.”

“You were one of the few individuals who could see the potential in a 15-year-old who made an incredibly bad decision.”

It’s letters from young offenders who got a second chance, like Melody Isaman’s daughter.

“She was caught shoplifting just before she turned 18, and I have no idea why,” Isaman said. “I do not even think she knows why she did it to this day.”

Her daughter was able to undergo what is called a redirection program. In Eden Prairie, this is where an officer and a victim agree on an alternative to the justice system.

“She was going to do some pretty intensive work and volunteer work, and it was a wake-up call, big time,” Isaman said.

Randy Thompson launched the city’s program 17 years ago.

(Credit: CBS)

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“It gives the perpetrator a chance to recover the victim, and for the victim to be able to explain to the perpetrator how they are affected by their actions. It’s really powerful because it makes victims and offenders talk to each other,” Thompson said.

He says about 75% of cases involve shoplifting. Also included are things like: curfews, chemical and traffic violations, property damage, disorder and sometimes minor assaults.

“The redirection allowed them to have a clean record, and now they’re in a place that allowed them to get to where they are,” Thompson said.

He says there are 1,200 success stories, but a handful of cases are sent back to court each year.

“They do not have a buy-in, the family does not have a buy-in for the program. If you do not have it, it’s pretty hard, “Thompson said.

Guy Henson agreed to the diversion as he was the victim of a crime. Some teens wrapped cellophane between two signs across a street. He drove his collector car through it, damaging his bonnet and antenna.

“I said, ‘I understand, you know, I was young too, I did things.’ But I said, ‘This was something dangerous,’ said Henson. “It should not haunt them for the rest of their lives, and if they learn a little lesson now that they’re younger, then they can work on it and build on it. on it.”

Isaman is grateful that a program like this exists, and says her daughter stayed out of trouble.

“It is a gift that is amazing that these children have a chance to change and make another choice,” Isaman said.

The age range for participants in the Eden Prairies program has been from 10 years, up to young adults. They tell WCCO that the recidivism rate is around 12%.

Here are some of Thompson’s experiences over the years.

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Other departments, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, has similar programs.

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