The Youth 180 Workshop is a true partnership between the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the community it serves. This workshop offering provided by the nonprofit Choose 180 is a pre-filing juvenile diversion program designed to keep youth out of the criminal justice system.
The PAO first partnered to launch the Youth 180 Workshop in 2011 as a pilot project after King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg asked community leaders for help to reach youth in a new way.
In July of 2011, the PAO, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Choose 180, launched its first half-day workshop, where youth were invited to participate and hear from volunteer speakers who had dealt with some of the same issues and struggles the youth were dealing with and who made their own commitment to Choose 180 and change the direction of their life.
Today, the 180 Program diverts approximately 400 youth each year from the criminal justice system. Saturday half-day workshops are held each month at Seattle University's School of Law. The university loans the space to Choose 180 and hosts the Youth 180 Workshops free of charge. Each of these 400 youth represents a host of costs that are avoided. For example, when 400 youth cannot be located or fail to respond to the diversion letter, each is arrested, charged with a crime, booked into the Youth Service Center, and assigned a public defender to represent them in juvenile court.
Diverting 400 youth out of our juvenile court system generates considerable financial savings in public defense, detention, and court costs. However, the immeasurable costs avoided include avoiding the youth's own self-image as a criminal, in handcuffs, in a police car, and booked into detention. The Youth 180 Workshops instead returns youth to their community, to hear from respected community leaders and others with criminal justice experience about the consequences of their decisions to participate in crime.
A 2012 evaluation of the Youth 180 Workshop conducted by the University of Washington found that the program is effective at reaching youth, inspiring them to change, and helping them identify the assets and liabilities in their lives that can help or hinder their desire to change. The evaluation also revealed that the effects of the 180 Program stayed with youth over time, that the program was effective in changing attitudes and behavior.
A 2014 evaluation of the Youth 180 Workshop by the King County Office of Strategy and Budget (PSB) found that the program is more effective than traditional diversion in reducing juvenile recidivism and more effective than traditional diversion in having a positive impact on disproportionate minority contact.
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