For one demographic in Hennepin County, the need for criminal defense has decreased thanks to police patrols and community coaches. Juvenile crime in Minneapolis and Hennepin County has decreased by 40 percent over the last five years and community coaches have played a major role in the decline.
Community coaches are people hired by the county who act as mentors in the youth community, challenge young people regarding their goals and act as liaisons with the court. Hennepin County has three community coaches. One of the ways the number of juvenile offenders has dropped so dramatically is the use of the community coaches in maintaining communication between the youth and the court.
In the past many juveniles were arrested when they missed their court appearance, and many juveniles missed their court appearances because the court did not have reliable contact information to provide court notices to families. Community coaches have helped increase court appearances by maintaining accurate contact information. As a result fewer juveniles have been arrested for missing their court appearances.
One community coach helps his youth see beyond what he calls “instant gratification” by challenging them to think about how their pop culture heroes achieved their success. The community coach says many youth look at entertainers and athletes and do not realize the hard work it took to get there. He says one of his goals is to teach discipline by showing how long it took a youth’s favorite rap star to become successful. Those choices he says will help them stay on the right side of the law.
Source: MPRnews, “Community coaches work to keep juvenile offenders out of the penalty box,” Dan Olson, 4/5/11