2015 Comprehensive County Youth Services Plan Completed
The Department of Human Services, Division of Community and Youth Services has submitted its 2015 Juvenile Justice Commission Application and Comprehensive County Plan for approval by the State of New Jersey.
Funding rose slightly over 2014 levels, in spite of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant funding. The allocation for services funded by State Community Partnership, which were cut in 2014, was partially restored and Sussex County will receive $149,766.00 in funding for 2015. The Family Court allocation was reduced by $1,664.00 to $163,184.00. Overall funding for services and program administration went from $366,535.00 in 2014 to $368,500.00 for 2015.
This funding may be used for a variety of purposes. Funds are used to either help youth stay out of the Family Court System, provide alternatives to formal involvement in the system, or for alternatives to detention to keep youth out of a secure detention facility, which is achieved through a system of graduated sanctions dependent upon the nature of the charges against the youth.
Over the last five years, the Sussex County Detention Alternatives Program has provided these graduated sanctions to help court-involved youth by providing monitoring and supervision, either through the Home Detention Program, often referred to as the "bracelet" program, or the less intensive Home Supervision Program. The Home Detention Program provides intensive daily supervision seven days a week, electronic monitoring, community service, and case management to court involved youth while maintaining the youth with his/her family within the community where s/he can maintain school involvement/enrollment, seek or maintain employment, and have access to local social services. Home Supervision provides most of the same services but does not include the electronic monitoring. The level of supervision is determined by the youth's level of compliance with the requirements of the court.
In 2012, the most current data available, there were 372 juvenile arrests in Sussex County. Of the top ten charges as a percentage of total arrests, aggravated assault, weapons charges and DUI all remain between 1% and 4%, where they have been since 2000. Burglaries over the last twelve years have been as high as 8% of total arrests in 2008 and as low as 1% in 2011 and rose to about 4% in 2012.
Liquor law, criminal malicious mischief and simple assault charges have gone up and down over the last twelve years, ranging from lows of 6% to highs of 12%, but charges in all three categories dropped from 2011 to 2012, in which 5% of total arrests were for criminal malicious mischief, 6% were for simple assault, and 9% were liquor law charges.
Disorderly persons charges, which had dropped from a high of 9% in 2010 to 6% in 2011 rose again in 2012 to 11% of total arrests. Larceny also hit a high in 2010 (14%), dropped in 2011 to 9% and rose again to 13% in 2012.
The greatest number of arrests since 2000 with the exception of 2005 was in charges related to substance use. Up until 2008, these were still less than 15% of all arrests, but since that year, these arrests have continued to climb with the sharpest spike being between 2010 and 2011. During this period, there was an increase from 17% to 24% of all arrests and in 2012, substance use arrests topped out at 25% of all arrests.
The Planning Committee of the Sussex County Youth Services Commission met six times over a five month period to review and analyze over two hundred pages of data and formulate its recommendations for needed services for both youth at risk of involvement and those already involved in the Family Court system. Much of the data was provided by the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, and other data was researched from sources such as the New Jersey State Police Unified Crime Report, Middle School Risk and Protective Factor Surveys, NJ KidsCount reports from the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, stationhouse adjustment reports from Sussex County police departments, and data collected by the Detention Alternatives Program and service providers funded through Juvenile Justice Commission.
Based on data from these reports as well as surveys of youth receiving services within the county and input from service agencies, the Sussex County Youth Services Commission has requested that 20% of its funding be used for prevention services, 10% be used to divert youth from entering the formal juvenile justice system and the remaining funds be used for disposition, which is the provision of services to those youth who have gone before a Family Court judge and been ordered into services and/or programs that will help them to avoid re-offending.
The Comprehensive County Youth Services Plan was approved by the Sussex County Youth Services Commission and recommended for approval by the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The Plan was approved by the Board of Chosen Freeholders on September 10, 2014 and has been submitted to the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission.