If you are a parent or guardian of a teenager between the ages of 13 to 17 who has committed a minor legal infraction, help may be available thanks to the Hunterdon County early intervention program announced the 14th of January this year by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office. After successful pilot programs in a few municipalities throughout Hunterdon County last year, the County adopted the program joining Morris County, who has had a comparable program for years. Hunterdon County’s program is the Law Enforcement Adolescent Program, also known as L.E.A.P. By successfully completing L.E.A.P, a teenager’s minor infractions will not be recorded as a criminal charge in the system.
Although intended for offenders who commit first-time infractions associated with substance abuse, anger management, issues related to school or family matters, L.E.A.P may also offer repeat offenders enrollment at the discretion of the Hunterdon County L.E.A.P Officer. Additionally, the court may mandate enrollment.
The objective of L.E.A.P is to help teens make better life choices by providing therapeutic support and counseling as opposed to being charged with a crime. L.E.A.P participants receive objective guidance in the hope of causing participants to reflect on choices they made in the past, allowing them to gain further understanding and awareness about how to go about changing their behaviors in the future. Additionally, the program will be a source of encouragement, offering tools to avoid further criminal justice system involvement. Also, it is important to note that there is little to no cost to the teenager’s family.
L.E.A.P is offered by the HPR (Hunterdon Prevention Resources) in collaboration with the County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III. Serving Hunterdon County for 40+ years, HPR provides prevention and educational services in addition to community and individual treatment programs. Lesley Gabel, the HPR L.E.A.P. Director, works in conjunction with Program Coordinator Jerri Collevechio; the Town of Clinton Police Department’s Patrolman James Kramer has been named as the Hunterdon County L.E.A.P. Officer.
For more information about HPR and its services, visit hunterdonprevention.com or call 908-782-3909.
(1) Media Release – January 14, 2013, “Hunterdon Prosecutor Announces New Juvenile Initiative”
(2) Hunterdon County Democrat, January 31, 2013 “Intervention program for young offenders” by John Slevers, The Express Times