“As the new school year gets underway, a group of community leaders and stakeholders in Cumberland County is keeping a keen eye on the prime hotspots for juvenile crime: the schools.
“We want to prevent the juveniles of today from becoming the young adults of tomorrow who are committing violent, heinous crimes,” explains Tracy Swan, senior project coordinator for the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden.Their goal isn’t to catch juvenile delinquents and put them behind bars. Rather, their mission is to intervene before these youth have an opportunity to enter the juvenile justice system.
Since 2009, the Rand Institute has been tasked by New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General to lead community stakeholders in Cumberland County to identify potential policies, practices, and programs which could prevent or reduce juvenile delinquency. Initially focused on Vineland, the municipality saw a 76 percent decrease in juvenile arrests before expanding the coalition in 2013 to include two other Cumberland County cities, Bridgeton and Millville.
Today, the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition is comprised of nearly 100 members representing more than 50 law enforcement agencies, municipal and county government, school districts, chaplains, and youth-serving organizations. Chaired by Freeholder Director Joe Derella, the bolstered coalition has been supported by $120,000 in grants over the past two years from the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders.”