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Public Counsel Applauds New $1 Million Grant to Restore Youths' Futures

Everychild Restorative Justice Center teamYouth who wind up in the juvenile justice system too often lose out on their futures too. Every year thousands miss out on their education, wind up in probation camps or on a fast track to jail as an adult. A new $1 million grant aims to restore the futures of more than 1,200 youth in South Los Angeles.

The Everychild Foundation announced its annual gift will support a three-year project by Centinela Youth Services to create a justice center across the street from three Los Angeles Juvenile Courts. Public Counsel will provide legal services to youth at the new center.

Public Counsel President Hernan Vera thanked Everychild and Centinela Youth Services for creating this great opportunity. "Our youths' futures aren't written in stone when they enter the juvenile justice system," he said. "They deserve a chance to take charge of their lives, to get an education, and make a fresh start. Public Counsel is thrilled to be part of this project that will transform the lives of thousands of youth and a whole community."

The Everychild Restorative Justice Center will operate under a framework that engages victims, offenders, families and the community in repairing the harm caused by crime. The restorative justice model helps improve school attendance and reduce drug use, truancy, school suspensions and the risk of future incarceration.

"The primary goal of the program is to keep teens from being incarcerated or ending up at a juvenile detention camp where, sadly, outcomes are dismal," said Jacqueline Caster, Everychild President. 

Serving Troubled Teens and Helping a Whole Community

The Everychild Restorative Justice Center will focus on 1,200 high-risk teens by diverting them from the juvenile justice system into the center's programs. The programs will include mediation between teen offenders, their victims, and their family members; family counseling to open and reach agreement on improved behavior at school and a more cooperative home environment; educational assistance to encourage teens to reenroll in school; employment services; and referrals to mental health providers.

Public Counsel is a leader on children's rights and reaches more than 6,000 youth each year. In 2010 Public Counsel and other groups settled a class action lawsuit over Los Angeles County's failure to educate youth at its largest juvenile detention facility, Camp Challenger, that will reform the troubled institution. Public Counsel has also worked to keep youth in school by supporting positive behavior policies and pushing for reforms of curfew laws in Los Angeles schools.

Pictured above: Supporters of the Everychild Restorative Justice Center project including Centinela Youth Services staff, Superior Court Judge Irma Brown (center), Superior Court Judge Michael Nash (front right), and Public Counsel's Paul Freese (back right) and Martha Matthews (right).