UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - A new program is helping change the way six southern Illinois counties help juveniles with discipline problems by addressing the issue before they become regulars in the court system.
The program, called Redeploy, will give counties the option of providing counselors to troubled teens and their families before ultimately sending a teen to a juvenile justice.
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds said the program has the ability to make a big difference in southern Illinois.
Teens can lose their way for a number of reasons and can end up in a courtroom facing a judge and ultimately in prison.
Union County State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds sees it happen again and again.
"We see kids work their way in to the juvenile justice system and then in to adult prison almost as soon as they're of age to be charged as an adult," Edmonds said.
He said the program will help teens get back on track, and avoid seeing repeat offenders in juvenile justice.
"So many criminal issues, be they adult or juvenile really come back to substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues. And those are things that if we spend time to address those on the front end we can save everyone a lot of heart ache," he said.
Edmonds said other Illinois counties have seen the program work, as much as a 90 percent drop in teen offenders.
"That's telling you, one, and kids going to prison that probably really didn't have to go to prison if we would have addressed it in a different way and it is also telling you that this program is incredibly effective," he said.
The program is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Union county will be eligible for additional grant money once a plan is in place.