WILKES-BARRE – A mentoring program run by King's College will be available to juvenile offenders for at least another two years thanks to a $145,000 grant.
The college's Juvenile Justice College Mentoring Program received a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Byrne Justice Assistance Grant to fund the second and third year of the program that uses student volunteers to mentor first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders in Luzerne County.
The program that began in October 2011 is coordinated by the college's criminal justice/sociology and psychology departments, and works in conjunction with the District Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, juvenile probation services and county judges.
Currently, 19 volunteer mentors meet twice weekly for two hours with juveniles to help with homework, participate in educational activities and provide support.
College spokesman John McAndrew said 26 juveniles were involved in the program last year. This semester, the college has 18 new participants and three voluntarily returning juveniles.
The grant will allow for each six-week session to end with a field trip to an educational site and a community service project, according to the college.
Mentoring sessions for the next two years will cover training, meals, bus fare, room rentals, field trips, community service projects, curriculum development, assessment tools and stipends for the program team and research/administrative assistant.
The anticipated outcome of the program is a positive impact on the juvenile's behavior, academic performance, and desire to pursue higher education or technical trade, according to the grant letter. Concurrently, the juveniles will learn how to be held accountable for their actions and to understand the impact they have had on their victims and on their community.
The mentoring program also works with the county's Youth Aid Panels, a program set up for juveniles who commit non-violent first offenses.
Juveniles will get a chance to appear before the panel, located in each county school district, and complete a three-month program. If the program is completed successfully, the juvenile will not go through the court system and won't have a criminal record.
Sheena Delazio, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7235.