On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.
The Juneau County Diversion Program, created by Attorney Scott Southworth in 2010, ended on December 31, 2012. Due to the new Juneau County District Attorney's position that there was no need for the Wisconsin State Funded program, there was no request for an extension of funding and my position as the Program Coordinator for the program came to an end.
What was the Juneau County Diversion Program
The Juneau County Diversion Program was an intensive program designed for young (typically between age 17-25), first time, nonviolent offenders. The program often required the offender to do community service work, pay restitution, attend living skills workshops, write letters of apology, counseling, drug treatment and be paired with a mentor. If successful in the program, the offender would avoid a criminal conviction by having the case dismissed with prejudice.
Since the program required far more accountability (myself and each individual's mentor) and was more intensive than typical deferred agreements, not everyone completed the program. Those that did complete the program were statistically less likely to commit another crime, making Juneau County, and the State of Wisconsin, safer.
As a whole, the program reduced recidivism in the County and additionally improved the offenders' lives by giving them a life-time mentor and proper training to make them better and more desirable employees.
The Juneau County Diversion Program Ended - Now What?
Now that the Juneau County Diversion Program has ended, what becomes up these young, first time, nonviolent offenders now?
What are the plans that current Juneau County District Attorney Mike Solovey has for these individuals? Some of these young kids can learn from their mistake without having a Scarlet Letter C (conviction) weighing over them forever. Will they not be given the opportunities that some before them received simply because the program had to end? If there is a diversion program in place, are there mentors and staff to help keep these young offenders accountable to their agreement? These are some questions that the citizens of Juneau County should be asking.
As the former Program Coordinator of this program, I am sincerely concerned for the young citizens of Juneau County. Currently, my partner, Scott Southworth, now represents people charged criminally, including those that would have previously been eligible to enter the Diversion Program. In the future, I intend to represent people with criminal charges as well. I hope that our clients will be given similar opportunities to compensate for mistakes and be able to turn their life around, like so many did in the Juneau County Diversion Program.