Kathleen R. Skowyra
This brief "discusses an effort in Texas to divert youth with suspected mental health needs away from juvenile justice processing. The Front-End Diversion Initiative (FEDI) uses specialized juvenile probation officers to link these youth and their families to community services and divert these youth from adjudication within the juvenile justice system." Sections cover: FEDI introduction; the issue of juvenile offenders' mental health challenges; juvenile justice processing of youth with mental health needs; the role of the juvenile probation officer and specialized supervision; the innovation of using Specialized Juvenile Probation Officer (SJPOs) as a pre-adjudication diversion strategy; the FEDI model; results and lessons learned; and looking forward. It appears that those youth participating in FEDI were significantly less likely to be adjudicated than those youth who were under traditional supervision.