By Brian Brennan
LAS VEGAS — For years, local correctional facilities have been packed to the breaking point. Currently, there are about 2,600 children in Clark County’s juvenile justice system, but one program is helping lower the incarceration rate.
Probation officers say intensive supervision is a combination of 24/7 surveillance and GPS tracking ankle bracelets. They say it’s about keeping juveniles accountable and out of correctional facilities.
The job of a probation officer is part police officer and part social worker. Darren Dimaya and his partner track juveniles with GPS ankle bracelets. They will respond at any time of the day to a youth outside of their approved zone. They make three to seven random checks a week. Dimaya says dealing with children between 12 to 18 years old is balancing act.
“I’m not playing the parental role, I’m not their father for lack of a better term, but I am someone trying to get them on the right track in life,” Dimaya said.
Over the last five years, the program has helped drop the incarceration rate of juveniles by 40 percent. Family court Judge William Voy says the lower incarceration rate saves taxpayers $200 dollars per youth per day. It also keeps juveniles in school where they are more likely to succeed than in a correctional facility.
“Keeping kids in the community and at community based level services has much better outcomes and recidivism rates are much lower,” Judge Voy said.
Dimaya says the job is something he believes in, but it has some tough moments.
“Understanding some of the challenges to this city, as a juvenile, because it’s an adult town, this job is very important, to me.”
Another component is being added to the intensive supervision program. It will be a reporting center where juveniles will be required to check in with a probation officer after school.