Macon – A new juvenile justice initiative will be in place Aug. 1 when students begin classes in Bibb County public schools.
Representatives from several Bibb County offices and state agencies signed the Macon-Bibb County School-Justice Partnership Agreement Tuesday, agreeing to handle specific “Focused Act” offenses that typically are seen in schools outside the traditional court process. Examples of offenses included in the Agreement include: affray, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, disrupting a public school, misdemeanor obstruction, simple assault and possession of alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana (less than one ounce).
Under the Agreement, School Resource Officers are equipped with the tools and authority to assign a student who commits one of the Focused Act offenses to programs aimed at addressing the root cause for the student’s delinquent behavior. By addressing the root causes of delinquent behavior, students get the help they need faster and they’ll be less likely to reoffend.
“It’s not at all uncommon for student offenders to have experienced multiple traumas — the loss of a parent or family member, someone close to them who is sick or in jail, physical abuse, or sexual abuse — and to have not received treatment,” said Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke.”
With these cases being handled outside the traditional court setting, students don’t acquire a criminal record and judicial resources are freed up to focus on more dangerous offenses.
There’s potential for the quality of life for everyone in Bibb County to be improved as a result of this agreement as more students stay in school until graduation. With a high school diploma in hand, more of our youth will be able to go to college or technical schools, or the military, and be prepared for higher paying jobs, impacting the poverty that helps drive much of our crime.
Having a trained workforce and lower crime will influence businesses to locate in Bibb County.
“Children will have the helping hand they need to be happier, healthier and more successful adults to raise the next generation,” Cooke said.
Elementary school students are not included in the Agreement due to their age.
The agreement is based on a proven model piloted in Clayton County in 2002 that resulted in an increase in graduation rates and a decrease in juvenile crime. Communities across the nation have replicated the model and achieved similar success.
An Oversight team made up of representatives from the partnering offices and agencies will meet regularly to monitor its effects on students and juvenile crime.
Partners who signed the agreement include: the Bibb County School District, Bibb County Juvenile Court, Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Macon Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office, Macon-Bibb County Solicitor General’s Office and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.
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Contact: Amy Leigh Womack