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Prosecutor announces new program for juveniles

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Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears announced the new Juvenile Second Chance Program during a press conference July 1 at Wheeler-Dowe Boys and Girls Club. Mears was joined by Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis CEO and executive Maggie A. Lewis and Erik Davenport, director of the organization’s Pivot program.

The Juvenile Second Chance Program gives children and teenagers who have committed low-level, non-violent offenses an opportunity to avert the criminal justice system. It attempts to keep children out of trouble by offering them a chance to correct their behavior by providing supervised activities, mentors and role models.

“When you give younger people the opportunity of hope, they do not commit crimes,” Mears said.

In partnership with Boys and Girls Club, the Marion County prosecutor’s office will refer eligible children and teens to the organization and pay for a one-year membership at the club. The children can choose to attend one of the locations throughout the city.

“I really feel like magic happens here,” Lewis said.

The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis was founded in 1893 and year-round programming. Summer session is currently underway at Wheeler-Dowe as well as other locations throughout the city. The Juvenile Second Chance Program begins immediately, and Mears said the goal is to have “hundreds if not thousands” of youth within the program by next year.

The new program is for first-time offenders. The prosecutor’s office will refer first-time offenders to the organization. Examples of offenses that warrant a referral include theft, drug possession and other misdemeanors. However, if a weapon is involved with the crime, youth are not eligible for the program.

“Ultimately, I would rather spend money to provide this opportunity than prosecuting children for making mistakes,” Mears said in a press release. “We know that once children are introduced into the criminal justice system, it typically sets up a cycle of challenges and expectations that can impact their entire life. Instead, we want to help change behavior and give them opportunities to make better choices, which is a benefit for the entire community.”

Contact staff writer Abriana Herron at (317) 924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @abri_onyai.

Boys and Girls Club locations:

Finish Line – 3870 N. Post Road

Keenan-Stahl –1949 E Troy Ave.

Legore – 5228 West Minnesota St.

Lilly – 801 South State Ave.

Wheeler-Dowe – 2310 East 30th St.

School Site Club Locations:

Global Preparatory Academy – 2033 Sugar Grove Ave.

Jonathan Jennings – 6150 Gateway Drive

Liberty Park – 8425 East Raymond St.

Pleasant Run – 1800 N. Franklin Road

Raymond Park8575 E Raymond St.
For more information on the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, visit bgcindy.org.

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