Young offenders to work to repay Carroll victims 'Earn-It' program will be model for other counties

September 23, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Juvenile offenders who have been ordered to pay restitution may soon get a chance to earn the money to pay back their victims.

A program known as Earn-It will provide jobs to nonviolent juveniles, said Harry W. Langmead, the state Department of Juvenile Services' assistant secretary for field services.

The program that will be unveiled Oct. 9 to Carroll County business leaders will be a model for the state, he said.

The cost in Carroll, to be paid by the Juvenile Services Department, will be about $35,000 annually, he said.

The program's success depends on the willingness and ability of business leaders to provide the jobs and on juvenile authorities to make the placements.

Participants will be permitted to keep one-third of their earnings, with two-thirds to go toward restitution, Langmead said.

"What good does it do if daddy pays restitution for his son or daughter?" asked Peter M. Tabatsko, juvenile master for Carroll County.

A similar program operated briefly in Anne Arundel County, but the program in Carroll is patterned on one that originated in Quincy, Mass.

Langmead said his agency expects to start one in every county in Maryland.

One success story is an 8-year-old program in Keene, N.H., Maryland authorities said.

Judith Sadoski, program manager of the Juvenile Conference Committee in Keene, operates in a largely rural area with about a third of the 144,000 population of Carroll County. The program costs $50,000 annually.

The New Hampshire program served 105 youthful offenders -- 75 percent male -- between ages 12 and 17 in 1996.

The recidivism rate, which Sadoski tracks for one year after an offender completes the program, was 14 percent for youths in the 1995 program.

The young offenders paid restitution ranging from $20 to $4,000. About 1,500 hours of community service work for nonprofit organizations were completed by the young offenders, Sadoski said.

"The keys to our success are individualized placement, careful tracking and a lot of community support," she said. Since transportation is often a problem, Sadoski said it helps to have a broad base of jobs from different areas so offenders can be placed in jobs near their homes.

Typically, she said, older participants in the program -- those 15 to 17 -- are placed in service jobs such as washing dishes, or light office work.

"Often, it's the kind of job that someone needs done, but can't get to, filing, collating, stapling, for example," Sadoski said.

Younger participants are more difficult to place and may need more direct supervision, Sadoski said. Generally, they do yardwork or other maintenance jobs, she said.

"Some have painted sheds and others have worked at a local museum raking leaves," she said. "About 85 percent of our court-ordered participants fulfill their obligations."

Pub Date: 9/23/97

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