Bringing back a program to keep first-time juvenile offenders’ records clean

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A program geared to help first-time juvenile offenders was out of service for nearly 10 years. Now local officials have the program up and running again, and say so far, it’s been a success.

The Williamsport Youth Commission is designed to give juvenile offenders a chance to right their wrongs and prevent them from entering the criminal justice system.

The Youth Commission originally started in the ’80s, but eventually lost involvement and shut down. In 2020, Judge Joy Reynolds McCoy of Lycoming County’s Juvenile Probation Office, was approached by former members of the commission to revitalize the program.

“We sent out letters of interest, had informational meetings and had a really nice turnout. Ultimately about 25 individuals showed an interest in being on the Youth Commission,” Judge McCoy said.

The board is made of up teachers, law enforcement, elected officials and various juvenile and drug and alcohol positions. It’s for first-time juvenile offenders with pending summary or misdemeanor chargers for a chance at keeping their records clean.

“We decide as a group of community volunteers, what that accountability measure will be for the juvenile,” said Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter.

It’s an individual approach, so they pick a combination of tasks for the youth to complete over about 90 days. This could be community service, written essays or other special projects.

“Someone on the Youth Commission will be assigned to that particular juvenile to make sure that they follow through and do everything that they’re supposed to do,” Judge McCoy said.

The only way to have the charges dropped is if the program is completed.

“It keeps them out of the juvenile justice system and ultimately, the ultimate goal is to keep them out of the criminal justice system all together,” Mayor Slaughter said.

There are only three young people currently enrolled but Mayor Slaughter says they’re all on track to complete the program.

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