Macon – The Macon-Bibb County School-Justice Partnership released an annual report Thursday, marking the Partnership’s successful first year in operation.
“Using proven strategies, we’re giving youthful offenders the opportunity to undergo treatment for the underlying reasons why they get in trouble without ever entering a courtroom,” District Attorney Cooke said at a Thursday news conference.
The Partnership is a collaboration amongst many facets of the criminal justice system, Bibb County Schools and the community that seeks to strengthen Macon’s children, keep them in school to graduate and stop the school to prison pipeline.
Many student offenders have experienced multiple traumas – the loss of a parent or family member, someone close to them is sick or in jail, physical abuse or sexual abuse — and they haven’t received treatment. Some need help with substance abuse or another problem at home.
The Partnership allows children to get the same treatment they’d be ordered to get if they instead were arrested and brought before a juvenile court judge. But, with the Partnership, students are getting services faster and it’s keeping them from reoffending.
“By keeping students out of court we’re also reducing the risk that they’ll reoffend. That not only means that we’ll have less offenders, it also means we’ll less victims,” Cooke said.
A student who is arrested is twice as likely to drop out of school. A student brought into court is four times more likely to drop out.
With less serious offenses being handled out of court, there’s also more judicial resources to focus on the most dangerous cases.
In the Partnership’s first year, 207 Bibb County middle and high school students were issued notices of offense after committing low level crimes like theft, possession of alcohol or marijuana, or affray (fighting). Only 10 students were referred to the Partnership a second time before school ended in May. One hundred and twenty students were referred for services such as counseling or workshops.
Of the students who received a written warning, 92 percent had no involvement with the court system for the remainder of the school year. Of the students who received a referral for services, 87 percent had no court involvement.
“People ask how we can stop the gangs and reduce the crime rate. This is how we do it,” Cooke said. “By helping children now, we’ll have fewer broken adults in the future.”
A similar partnership has been formed in Peach County. A PEACH Pride Partnership agreement signing ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 16, at Peach County High School. The public is invited to attend. The Peach Pride Partnership will be in place when students return to school next month.
More information about the Macon-Bibb County School-Justice Partnership and its annual report are available at www.macondistrictattorney.org/school-justice-partnership/.
For more news from the District Attorney’s Office, visit www.macondistrictattorney.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DADavidCooke, on Twitter at @DA_DavidCooke, and on Instagram at da_davidcooke.
Contact: Amy Leigh Womack