New project aims to keep kids out of judicial system
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - A project years in the making is nearly a year old and making a difference in the lives of District 51 students.
The Lighthouse Project in Mesa County is there for teens at a tipping point for entering into the justice system. It helps them envision and see a brighter future than the path they may currently be on.
While on a hike in 2020, Dan Rubinstein, the 21st Judicial District Attorney and his wife an attorney and former district court magistrate sparked up a conversation about youth intervention.
“She had been telling me for many years that we’re getting juvenile diversion kids about two years too late. It took us 18 months after that to get everything going.” Rubinstein said.
The project looks into at risk students, from there those working within the project help offer kids personalized programs to address reasons why they might not be going to school.
Work study students at CMU help to offer a more real-world approach to the project.
Jacque Berry, the director of the juvenile diversion program, said, “Our work study students, they’re younger, many of them have been through similar experiences as some of the kids they’re working with.”
Rubinstein and Berry said the project offers an alternative to students and helps them become productive members of society.
“A kid that goes through the system could cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in placements. We’re really hoping to avoid that by front loading the services and seeing if we can work on the underlying behavior as quickly as possible.” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein said the money for the project comes from opioid settlement money. About 150-thousand has been put toward the Lighthouse Project.
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