McCreadie proposes proactive crime-fighting system - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

McCreadie proposes proactive crime-fighting system

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Just as the Judiciary reports hundreds of youth currently under some form of juvenile probation with dozens more detained at the Department of Youth Affairs, a new crime initiative proven successful stateside is being proposed for Guam.

Senator Brant McCreadie says crime is at the forefront of his agenda for this second legislative term, saying, "I think when you talk about the crime and crime rate, you also have to talk about rehabilitation and options that we can give our youth. Catching a criminal at the end of his offense, it's too late, we have to get him at the front-end." Part of the solution is a crime initiative that would bring together the Executive Branch and the Guam National Guard. He added, "This is a program that was started by the Department of Military Affairs in Florida back in 1997. It's called the About Face Program, and it basically gives an option to crime for youth from ages 13 to 18. There's also a forward march for 18 to 21, but we really want to focus on our youth and make sure that we give them options."

It was last year when the Judiciary of Guam launched efforts for juvenile justice reform. The efforts come as the island currently has 600 to 700 youth currently under some form of juvenile probation - a staggering figure considering Guam's population size. At the same time, about 50 to 60 people are currently detained at DYA. "The Department of Youth Affairs is not getting any smaller," the senator continued, adding, "we are at capacity at Department of Youth Affairs, and I believe it costs this government in excess of $200 a day to house these clients at DYA. This would allow the clients at DYA or at-risk youth who haven't gone through the system yet to avail themselves to job programs, to specified skills and that all surfaces around the National Guard."

In Florida, there have been over 25,000 participants in the About Face Program with a successful completion rate of 91%. The program would offer guidance for at-risk youth along with provide life, social and job skills training where youth are prepared to enter the workforce and succeed. About Face also offers a tobacco cessation program, pregnancy and substance abuse prevention, as well as adult mentors and a strong peer support group.

"I believe this is a step that not just allows them the choice to either go into the military or not, it just gives them an option to be a better, productive member of society and the option not to commit crimes because they now have a skill set that would allow them to work instead of being an offender," said McCreadie.

The senator wrote to Governor Eddie Calvo and Brigadier General Roderick Leon Guerrero today in hopes of pushing the initiative forward on Guam.

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