How a Wayne Co. program helps low-risk offenders avoid juvie & turn things around

Posted at 6:22 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 18:22:34-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Some kids charged with crimes in Wayne County are getting a chance to wipe their criminal record clean. It's all part of a program for low-risk juvenile offenders.

The belief is that, for some children, the opportunity will guide them better than former prosecution.

The kids in this program are facing crimes like truancy, larceny and disturbance of the peace. instead of being placed under juvenile court supervision, they are given the chance to get on the right track.

"I was just trying to be me, but it wasn't the better me, it was just me trying to be grown," 16-year-old Shahidah Broom said.

Broom dreams of being a successful businesswoman by opening her own hair salon, but last year, when she was 15, she made a bad decision that she feared was going to de-rail all of that.

She didn't want us to talk about the nature of the non-violent offense, but she remembers being anxious in court – wondering about the punishment.

"I was sitting in the waiting area panicking," she told 7 Action News' Kimberly Craig. "I had sweaty hands. I thought this was it, I was going to go to jail. This was my consequence for all that I've been doing.

Her mother, Andrea James, tells us that she thinks the fact that Shahidah getting in trouble is why she's in a better place now.

That's because instead of being sentenced, the judge gave Shahidah the opportunity to be part of the "Right TRAC" program. It stands for Taking Responsibility and Accepting Consequences.

It's a collaborative program between the prosecutor's office and Wayne County's Juvenile and Youth Services. It meant Shahidah met at Black FAmily Development, with her counselor Charone Carter, to work on decision-making skills and conflict resolution. AT the ends of 90 days, Shahidah's criminal case was dismissed.

"I'm proud. Too happy. It's like having an opportunity that i thought I would never have," Shahidah said. "It's like my time really, because everyone told me I was going to end up on the news for a different reason."

In 2017, the Right TRAC program served 517 kids, and 70.7 percent of them obtained their goals. In 2018, it grew to 699 youths served with 79 percent of them obtaining their goals.

Alice Thompson, the CEO for Black Family Development, said that the main goal for the group is to give kids hope.

"It's about what can we do to help kids still have a sense of joy about themselves," Thompson said. "Hope for themselves, and be inspired about a future they can have and be good citizens. Locking up doesn't do that. It changes all that perspective for a child."

When you give a child a chance to change the trajectory of their lives, they may just amaze you.

"Because the mind is not fully developed, you have an opportunity to really help mold, to offer up other options, to offer up other positions," Dr. Shenetta Coleman said. She's the director of Wayne County Juvenile & Youth Services. "Sometimes kids just need additional support, that's it. They just want to be heard. They want to be loved on. They want to have something to do."

"It made a huge difference, oh my goodness," Shahidah's mother said. "Although she is a good girl, she had an outlook on life like, it's me against the world, and that wasn't the case."

"We help them create broader visions for themselves in this world, see themselves as being successful, and you can do it, but it first comes from discipline. It comes from education and right decisions," Thompson added.

Shahidah said she wants to take people to see her counselor because she knows that she can help, and that the Right TRAC program helps.

To learn more about the program, click here.

Next Tuesday on 7 Action News at 6 p.m., Kim Craig has the remarkable story of a man with a troubled past who is helping others move past violence.

In Wayne county, sesources that may be able to help prevent children from getting in trouble, or further into trouble, can be found with a Youth Assistance Program known as First Contact.

Contact the organizations in your area to see if a child meets the criteria to be a part of their programs.

Alternative for Girls - Services include academic support/tutoring, life skills, and after school programming. Serving 48202, 48204, 48206, 48207, 48208, 48209, 48210, 48216, 48217, 48221, 48227, 4823, 48238.

City of Garden City - Services include counseling, assessment, parent education, and social life skills.
Serving western Wayne communities, 48135, 48127, 48141, 48150, 48152, 48154, 48185, 48186, 48187,48188, 48239, 48240.

City of Wayne - Services include family counseling, life skills workshops, tutoring, and school truancy interventions. Serving 48184, 48185, 48186, 48174.

City of Westland - Services include group counseling, parent education, and mentoring.
Serving 48185, 48186, 48111, 48127, 48135, 48141, 48150, 48151, 48152, 48153, 48154, 48174, 48180, 48187, 48188.

The Guidance Center - Services include forensic interviewing.
Serving all zip codes in Wayne County.

The Yunion, Inc. - Services include social skills enhancement, financial literacy, and family counseling. Serving 48201, 48202, 48203, 48204, 48206, 48212, 48226, 48238, Central and Downtown Detroit.

School Advocacy Center of Michigan - Services include education advocacy.
Serving all zip codes in Wayne County.

United Way for Southeastern Michigan - Services include anti-bullying interventions, conflict resolution/anger management, job readiness, and domestic violence workshops.
Serving 48111, 48127, 48201, 48202, 48203, 48204, 48205, 48206, 48207, 48208, 48209, 48210, 48211, 48212, 48213, 48214, 48215, 48216, 48219, 48221, 48223, 48224, 48227, 48228, 48230, 48234, 48235, 48236, 48238, 48212, 48225, 48203, 48141, 48146, 48122, 48239, 48180.