Federal stimulus money has spared the jobs of a six-person team that works with first-time juvenile offenders in the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office.
The jobs were among 65 law enforcement positions statewide to be paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to Gov. Bill Ritter’s office.
On Monday, Ritter and the Department of Public Safety announced the distribution of $16.5 million in federal funds to support both jobs and law enforcement programs.
District Attorney Dan May welcomed the $824.438 his office will receive. In addition to saving six positions, the money will let him add a seventh person to the team.
“We’re excited about it obviously,” he said.
The unit deals with about 800 juveniles each year, by getting them into treatment programs as an alternative to prosecution. The program has about an 85 percent success rate in keeping juveniles from re-offending, May said.
During his campaign for the District Attorney’s Office, May said he vowed to privatize the juvenile diversion program by making it pay for itself through fees and grants. However, a budget crisis put the six jobs in the diversion program in jeopardy shortly after he took office.
The program has gotten some federal funding and private donations from groups such as the El Pomar Foundation. The stimulus funds will provide a bridge until the program can be entirely funded without taxpayer dollars, May said.