The Juvenile Court Work Program was established over 30 years ago to provide the Juvenile Court in Orange County with a meaningful alternative to incarceration for certain juvenile offenders.
In lieu of serving an institutional commitment in Juvenile Hall or a juvenile camp, young men and women on the Juvenile Court Work Program literally work off their debt to society on weekends, getting plenty of sunshine and exercise in the process. Typically, a juvenile will serve 20 eight-hour days (10 weekends) on a work crew. Accommodations are made for school sports events and weekend jobs.
The Work Program is not an "easy out" for delinquent behavior. The program is very structured and the work is tough. Juvenile offenders have sometimes said they would prefer to spend 30 days in Juvenile Hall than do only 10 days on the Work Program. Juveniles who fail to complete the Work Program are returned to Juvenile Court for further sanctions - generally serving a commitment in a juvenile institution.
The youths in the program do productive work that needs to be done, never "busy work." Cities, school districts and other government agencies pay to have these crews service their property. The money raised helps to offset program costs.
The young men and women in the Juvenile Court Work Program are an average age of 15-16 years old, but they could be as young as 11, up to the age of 21. They participate on work crews of 10-12 young people.
Rules are strict. Youth are not permitted to arrive to work under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. On any weekend day, 12-15 Work Program crews can be found spread throughout Orange County. The crews might be:
Weeding the Santiago Creek riverbed, as part of wetlands restoration.
Clearing brush from hillsides adjacent to public schools to remove hazards.
Picking up debris and trash from city and county beaches, storm drains and flood channels.
Clearing weeds and debris from street medians and alleys in cities.
Packing sand bags to fortify flood control channels.
Landscaping and collecting trash at county-run regional parks.
Painting over unsightly graffiti found on public property.
Assisting schools in preparation for fire and rain seasons.
Assisting schools and cities with the complaints of local citizens.
These crews are self-sufficient, and are supplied with their own equipment and materials-tools, trash collection supplies, and transportation. Additionally, liability to the client is minimized as the crews are provided with their own worker's compensation coverage.
Government agencies needing low-cost, supervised work crews to undertake such projects can call the Juvenile Court Work Program office at (714) 935-7507.