Home > Court, Courts, Police, Upper Southampton > U. Southampton Youth Aid Panel Aims to Help Not Hurt

U. Southampton Youth Aid Panel Aims to Help Not Hurt

By Tom Sofield
Editor – (tsofield@buxmontnews.com)

Upper Southampton police Chief Ron MacPherson. (Tom Sofield)

By May Upper Southampton police Chief Ron MacPherson hopes to have a program to help youth who get into trouble operational in the township.

The Youth Aid Panel is a court-diversionary program for first-time youth offenders who admit their guilt to a crime of a minor nature. The program is overseen by the Bucks County Juvenile Probation and has a 95 percent success rate, MacPherson said.

“It’s a good tool for kids who sometimes make mistakes,” said MacPherson, “It’s not meant to punish kids. It gives them a break.”

The panel will try find what is causing the youth to get in trouble, whether it is problems at home, drugs or school issues, he said.

Punishment for those who come in front of the panel will be writing apology letters, community service and in some cases monetary restitution, according to MacPherson.

The youth will make a pact that they will not get in trouble again while on a probationary period that is set by the panel, if they do charges will be referred to county court, the chief said.

Four of the five panel members are Upper Southampton residents. MacPherson said he is not yet releasing the names of the members, but said their day jobs include two local business owners, domestic violence advocate, social worker and an insurance liabilities claim adjuster.

The Chief said, the five panel members will under-go a background check and receive free training in Doylestown.

“The five members will probably find it very rewarding,” MacPherson said of the panel.

Out of 518 youth in Bucks County who went in front of panels in 2009, 457 successfully completed their probation set by the panel, which was on average a little more than 4 months, according to stats on the Bucks County panel’s website.

The first Youth Aid Panel in Bucks County was started in Warrington in 1977, now there are 22 in Bucks County along with a county-wide program in Montgomery County.

This is the second time Upper Southampton has had a panel to help youth. The first panel ceased a few years ago for unknown reasons, MacPherson said.

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