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King County Prosecutor
Dan Satterberg


New Juvenile Court Domestic Violence Diversion Program

Summary

The King County Prosecutor’s Office in partnership with King County Superior Court, the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and the City of Seattle have launched a new juvenile diversion program geared toward providing services to families who are struggling with domestic violence. The program is called Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS).

Story

The King County Prosecutor’s Office in partnership with King County Superior Court, the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and the City of Seattle have launched a new juvenile diversion program geared toward providing services to families who are struggling with domestic violence. The program is called Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS). A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the program is scheduled for June 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Youth Services Center lobby at 1211 East Alder Street in Seattle.

Speakers at tomorrow’s event include: King County Superior Court Judge Regina Cahan; King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg; Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services; Tina Walha, City of Seattle Innovation Team Director; and Paul Daniels, Juvenile Court Services Manager.
In addition, a participant from the program will also be speaking at tomorrow’s event. 

Unlike adult court, juvenile domestic violence rarely involves intimate partner violence. Instead, the vast majority of cases in juvenile court involve youth acting out against their parents or siblings at a misdemeanor level. Many of these youth struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders.

“Since January we have helped nearly 100 families who had summoned the help of police for violence within the home,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “Under the old model, we would charge the case and offer help only upon conviction,” he added.  “Now we divert these cases away from court and to an array of services to give parents and children the skills to live peacefully together – it is a much better outcome for all,” he said.

FIRS is modeled after Pima County, Arizona’s Domestic Violence Alternative Center, where that jurisdiction has seen its juvenile domestic violence bookings plummet from over 1,000 youth annually to just 82 in 2012.

The benefits of this common sense approach will be substantial. Based on 2013 statistics, each year nearly 300 fewer youth will be booked into juvenile detention and nearly 500 families will bypass the delay created by formal court processing and receive earlier intervention services.

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