WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she wants to give a second chance to juvenile offenders with a program that would let formal charges against them be dismissed in certain cases.
The new program, the “Talk it Out” program, gives a voice back to the victims and allows them to impact the lives of the juveniles who victimized them.
“Certainly we don’t want our juvenile offenders to transfer into the adult criminality and into the justice system,” Worthy said.
Worthy’s idea behind the “Talk it Out” program is that it’s a juvenile mediation program that would be an alternative to formal charges.
“We want to look at every case individually,” Worthy said. “We will screen the complaints that come in from police departments the way we regularly do.”
For a juvenile offender to qualify for the program the victim must approve and there must be no more than one victim. The offense can only be a minor violation of the law and the offender must have no priors. The offender’s parents must also give approval for their child to be part of the program. There are also other qualification factors.
The juvenile will be required to attend mediation sessions and pay a $50 fee. They could be required to attend counseling or anger management services.
“We will also then upon successful completion, we will formally deny the charge. There will be no charge and then we will make sure that the case that’s successfully diverted to this program are confidential and unavailable to the public. We must also say the juvenile will only be accepted into this program once because we want to make sure that we have a deterrence.”
Worthy’s office has started making calls to victims for cases that could be considered for the program.
The Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center is looking for volunteer mediators to participate in the program. If you would like to participate as a mediator you can call 313-561-3500.