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Lincoln County Juvenile Justice

The Lincoln County Juvenile Justice Board (LCJJB) became part of Region 9 Education Cooperative in the summer of 2018. The board, composed of community members representing Lincoln County police departments, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department., the Juvenile Probation Office, the faith-based community, Eastern New Mexico University, Lincoln County, Cope, Village council members, the Public Defender’s Office, Capitan schools, and other entities, chaired by District Judge, Daniel Bryant. Funding for this program is by a grant from Children, Youth, Families Department and Lincoln County is the fiscal agent. The LCJJ Board directs a continuum of four programs at this time: the Citation program, Girls Circle, Boys Council, and Restorative Justice. Each program has a trained facilitator and the continuum is directed by a coordinator.

The Juvenile Citation Program provides a series of diversion programs for the youth of Lincoln County. The role of the program is to provide Lincoln County youth an immediate consequence to their offense and to divert them from the formal juvenile justice system into one of the programs LCJJB facilitates.

One of those diversion programs is the Girls Circle, a structured support group for girls and youth from nine to 18 years, which integrates relational theory, resiliency practices, and skills training in a specific format designed to increase positive connections, personal and collective strengths, and competence in girls. The Girls Circle meets weekly for an hour and a half for ten weeks. The Girls Circle follows a format the includes each girl taking turns talking and listening to one another respectfully about their concerns and interests. The girls express themselves further through creative or focused activities.

Another diversion program is the Boys Council, which is a strengths-based group approach for boys and youth from nine to 18 years of age. The Council meets a core developmental need in boys for strong, positive relationships. In this structured environment, boys and young men gain the vital opportunity to address masculine definitions and behaviors and build their capacities to find their innate value and create good lives, individually and collectively. These groups meet for an hour and a half weekly for ten weeks. In this safe and action-oriented environment, boys can identify the positive and not-so-positive definitions about being male today. The Council promotes skill building and safe, healthy, positive, and diverse identities.

The third diversion program, the Restorative Justice Program in Lincoln County, developed to work with a juvenile who has caused harm to either a person or that person’s property. It focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to repair the harm done, the results can be transformational. This process emphasizes accountability, making amends, and - if they are interested - facilitated meetings between victims, offenders, and others. The offender, with support from the group, develops an agreement that will repair the harm they have caused. The facilitator supports the juvenile as he/she works to satisfy the agreement. 

All of these four formats can be applied to not only juvenile justice programs, but programs in areas such as schools, peer leadership, health education, athletics, boys and girls clubs, scouting groups, and gang-prevention to name a few. The LCJJB is working at this time to demonstrate to area schools just how beneficial all three could be in their schools.