In July of 2002, the Clackamas County Juvenile Department officially began the City Diversion Panels. Several forces came together which led to their creation. One important development coming forward was a funding source. A State Juvenile Crime Prevention initiative was implemented and as a result, each participating County received State money to prevent juvenile crime. Secondly, research had recently been released which indicated “low risk” offenders should be held accountable for their behavior but the consequence should be quick, appropriate and not excessive. Thirdly, some cities felt more could be done to hold juvenile offenders accountable and were asking for an opportunity to work with juvenile offenders who live in their communities. Lastly, the Juvenile Department knew that 80% of juvenile crime is committed by 8% of the offenders. The Juvenile Department was anxious to identify these “High Risk” offenders and focus the bulk of its attention on having a serious impact on juvenile crime. Hence, the creation of the City Diversion Panels allowed the Cities to be involved with its low risk offenders; they allowed more juveniles to be held accountable and they provided an opportunity for the Juvenile Department to focus its attention on “High Risk” juvenile offenders.
In July of 2002, Canby, Gladstone, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Molalla, Oregon City, Sandy, West Linn and Wilsonville began their City Diversion Panels. Estacada came on board in January of 2003. In January 2008, Happy Valley developed their City Diversion Panel; they also serve Clackamas youth. In early 2009 a Hispanic Diversion Panel was establishment in Milwaukie and Canby to better serve monolingual famlies in Clackamas County.
The “Low Risk” youth referred to Diversion Panels are typically first time offenders who were involved in offenses like curfew, runaway, possession of alcohol, criminal mischief or theft.
Today each city has a Diversion Panel Coordinator who coordinates panel activities. The county Office for Children and Families manages each city’s contract and the Juvenile Department has a liaison position to facilitate meetings and training. Youth face a panel of volunteer community members who decide upon an appropriate consequence. On average, each City Diversion Panel serves 25 youth each year, totaling about 275 youth annually.
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