There are various programs that have been put in place in the state of Texas in an attempt to reduce juvenile crimes. These programs and services are organized and coordinated at the local or state level. The coordination however vary from one county to another where in some counties, the juvenile probation department is responsible for these services while in others, the prosecuting general coordinates the programs. These programs promote justice for the juvenile offenders and the approaches of specific programs have significantly reduced juvenile crimes in Texas.
Some of these programs include juvenile diversion and probation supervision (CEA, 2008). Diversion is a situation where the court, the probation department or the police choose to handle a case of juvenile crime in an informal way. Diversion may be in form of supervisory caution where the juvenile offender is first counseled by the juvenile probation department and then referred to social services. The counseling may also involve the juvenile offender’s family. Diversion may also take the form of deferred prosecution where the offender enters 6-months probation where the offender’s actions are monitored.
In case any of the probation terms is violated, the offender is subjected to normal juvenile offender adjudication. It is within the prosecutor’s jurisprudence to confer deferred prosecution to any juvenile offender (Cooper, 2001). However, the juvenile probation department does not have the powers to defer prosecution unless under special condition which requires a written consent from the prosecutor. The deferred prosecution is however administered by both the court and the probation department. The types of deferred prosecution available differ from one county to another.
However, informal disposition procedures are issued by the juvenile boards although these guidelines are not compulsory. There various diversion options provided by the board which can be administered to a juvenile offender who qualifies for an informal disposition. The juvenile can be involved in community services, compensation of the victims and psychotherapy programs (NCJJ, 2006). Probation supervision services are coordinated by the local authorities in every county. The counties administer these services through the local juvenile board.
Moreover, there is a designated court which handles juvenile cases in every county. However, the state funds the juvenile judicial systems through Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. The state funds 30 percent of the cost of probation while the county funds the rest of the cost through its revenues. The terms and duration in which the juvenile offender is put under probation is determined by the juvenile court. The probation services are then provided by the probation department where there are one hundred and sixty eight departments in Texas.
These departments do not serve a particular county and source funds from different counties (NCJJ, 2006). The use of diversion and supervisory supervision especially among minors or first time offenders have worked wonders in taming criminal behaviors among juveniles. The strategy has been applied in other states with great success. Diversions and probations hold the juvenile accountable to the offence committed and is a fast and definite consequence of offence committed (Siegel & Senna, 1997).
The use of probation has also been instrumental in ensuring continuous education of the offender, counseling in case of substance abuse, mental health as well as follow up services. It also gives room for family therapy which is an essential aspect of juvenile crimes prevention (Dallas County Online, 2009). Reference Center on Early Adolescence, (2008): Building a More Effective Juvenile Justice System, retrieved on 9th February 2010 from: https://www. earlyadolescence. org/juvenile_justice_system Cooper, C. , (2001): Juvenile Drug Court Programs.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC. Dallas County Online, (2009): Juvenile Services Community Programs, retrieved on 9th February 2010 from: http://www. dallascounty. org/department/juvenile/probation/communityprograms. htm. National Center for Juvenile Justice. (2006): “Texas. ” State Juvenile Justice Profiles. Pittsburgh, PA: NCJJ. Online. Retrieved on 9th February 2010 from: http://www. ncjj. org/stateprofiles/. Siegel, L. and Senna, J. , (1997): Juvenile Delinquency, 6th edition, New York, NY: West Publishing Company.