How Does the Youthful Offenders Program Work?

Placed in an environment removed from life’s distractions, young adults face themselves and their personal adversities. As they work collectively to meet basic physical and emotional needs, they find the strength to overcome challenging situations and to be responsible for themselves while building a living and learning community.

During this process, staff members use a phased educational approach to help participants build community, develop responsibility, and learn accountability for actions.

Three interrelated phases make up the experience:

  • Learning emphasizes accepting responsibility for self and others in the unique community created on the course; instruction focuses on the basics of outdoor living and camping and teaches the Leave-No-Trace principles and their connection to Balanced and Restorative Justice.
  • Expedition puts into practice fundamental wilderness skills that have been learned and propels the group to form effective relationships and community.
  • Reflection consists of a 72-hour solo experience that provides youth with the opportunity to think about the choices that prompted their referral—and how they will use what they have learned when they return to their home and community.

Why We’re Successful

For probation officers, the Youthful Offenders Program works because of convenient start dates, transportation services, progress-focused written reports, community service projects, practical skills development, and a focus on the skills necessary to renew participants' commitment to justice, restitution, and becoming a positive and productive member of society.

Short-Term Intervention

The program was designed as a short-term intervention for young adults who must regain their focus before they require more costly and restrictive interventions. The program addresses a wide range of concerns, including:

  • Social adversities
  • School adversities
  • Family dysfunction
  • Accountability for probation violations
  • Drug and alcohol issues