TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — ACES, which stands for Alternative Community Engagement Services, is a program within the Pima County Juvenile Court system.
It is a program that was designed to help juveniles from being behind bars. It was designed for status offenders, misdemeanor domestic violence offenders as well as teens deemed as runaways.
Chris Vogler, the director of juvenile probation in Pima County, says, “We really look closely at who comes to jail. The greatest population of kids that landed in juvenile detention were misdemeanor domestic violence cases.”
ACES is a drop off or referral center for juveniles ages 8-18. Supervisor, Geri Yrigolla says, “it gives a chance for both the youth and their family to sort of be separate for a while so we can look and see what’s going and hopefully refer them to community resources to better enable them to handle these types of situations in the future.”
The situation is assessed at the center, then the next step is determined through outside resources. Yrigolla says, “we as probation officers have become really adept at sort of judging what a youth might need.”
The facility focuses on dealing with the current day and then providing resources for a long-term solution for each family.
Some cases even start with the parents reaching out. “It’s not really uncommon for a family member to contact the juvenile court and say hey my kids they’re starting to mess up,” says Yrigolla.
But the overall goal is to limit the number of juveniles who end up behind bars. Yrigolla says, “We’re trying to put into place the same kind of intervention through treatment and therapy to try and impact those behaviors before those kids reach 18 or 19 years old.” It’s at that age that the program can no longer help the kid going through a crisis.
And the program is having a positive impact on the numbers. Vogler says, ““last year, we had somewhere around 5 thousand referrals. Right now, today, less than 300 kids are on supervised probation.”
Hoping to have a long-lasting outcome on the cases that come through the door. “We are here to help those families be successful themselves, not necessarily to solve that problem while they’re here,” says Yrigolla.
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