Pubdate: Mon, 03 Nov 2003
Source: Alamogordo Daily News (NM)
Copyright: 2003 Alamogordo News
Author: Michael Shinabery


Two organizations' employees have just given area youth an incentive to do 
the right thing.

Otero Federal Credit Union and the Youth Empowerment Association teamed up 
to give $600 to the Juvenile Drug Court program.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge Jerry Ritter started Juvenile Drug Court 
some three years ago, to speed up getting kids back on track. A youth that 
is determined viable is quickly assigned into the average year-long program 
that brings quick sanctions - as well as incentives to excel such as movie 
passes, theme park tickets, and free meals at restaurants.

"It's a pizza here and a cake there," JDC Program Director Rick Gilsdorf 
said. "That's a big deal."

Participants sign a contract, and then the judges (Ritter and Frank 
Wilson), along with counselors, lawyers and parents set about guiding the 
youths away from the "if it feels good I'm gonna do it" attitude that got 
them into trouble in the first place, Ritter said in 2002 interview.

The target age group is 14-17, and the ideal candidate is somewhere between 
the first and the serious offender. Historically, the gender ratio is 60 
percent male, 40 percent female. Females have just as much of a drug 
problem as males.

Drug testing might be frequent - such as on Friday and then again on Monday 
morning to determine any weekend partying. Positive endeavors are also 
encouraged, from attending church to weight lifting programs.

Through the process, children learn to respect not their drug peers - 
sadly, for some offenders the drug peers are the only attention they may 
have received up to that point in life - but authority.

According to a Drug Court release from Gilsdorf, officials "actively 
involved" include, among many others, Assistant District Attorney Sandra 
Grisham, District Public Defender Regina Sewell, Juvenile Probation Officer 
Carolyn Lee, Alamogordo Department of Public Safety Officer Doyle Syling.

"The JDC staff works hard to provide quality treatment services and support 
to both our participants and their families," the release stated. "Our 
clients work very hard to turn their lives around. When they fall short of 
expectations, there are consequences. When they excel, they're recognized!"

The combined OFCU/YEA combined donation is just one of many from the 
community that "make this program a real force in the lives of so many 
young men and women," the release stated. "It's a great feeling to be able 
to team up with OFCU and the YEA for such important work!"
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens