ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess is pleased to announce the formation of the Juvenile Justice Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Project. The project’s goal is to help at-risk youth enrolled in Anne Arundel County schools avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system. The innovative, smart prosecution program is funded by a grant awarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Through early intervention, the State’s Attorney’s Office will work with Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) and the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) to assist youth suspended from school reducing their risk of becoming involved in criminal activity. The DOJ grant provides funding for a licensed clinical social worker to assist youth that AACPS identified as being on extended suspension. The State’s Attorney’s Office will also provide an additional staff member to assist with the project. Those individuals will receive one-on-one assistance to enroll in counseling and treatment. Currently, counselors are not assigned to youth on extended suspension, leaving them and their families largely on their own to get needed help and navigate their way back to school.

“Our hope is that the Juvenile Justice Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Project will help young people at a crossroads or on the verge of crisis to avoid becoming a part of the juvenile justice system. This project will support them during a critical period in their lives before it is too late. We don’t want youth committing a crime; we want them in school learning to live productive lives in our community,” said State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. “Studies have found that collaborative, holistic interventions such as this are the most effective means to reduce recidivism and prevent delinquency. We will use a licensed clinical social worker to connect families with the vital mental health, addiction, trauma, and family counseling services they may need. We recognize that if things are going poorly in school and a child is being suspended, then that is a clear signal that intervention is needed now. Our goal is to assist young people before their behavior escalates further. The LCSW will help them access community resources and treatment options so that young people can return to school and avoid becoming a part of the juvenile justice system. I am grateful that the AACPS is a partner in this endeavor.”

More specifically, this program will identify students in grades six through nine who may benefit from intervention services by providing counseling and mentorship, connecting them to holistic services such as the Anne Arundel County School’s behavioral support services, mental health, or drug evaluations and treatment, and trauma-informed therapy. The program will assist at least 20 students per month and will report its efforts and progress to the DOJ.

“It is my hope that this two-year project will redirect the trajectory of delinquency of as many young people as we can,” adds State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. “Collectively, and with the proper tools, we can identify at-risk youth and provide them with much-needed counseling. By implementing early intervention tools, we will help them from being expelled from school or reoffending.”

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance funded this project under award number 15PBJA-21-GG-03881-SMTP.

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