YOUNGSTOWN Youths to see game as reward
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A plan aimed at tackling recidivism among juvenile offenders in Mahoning County has caught the attention of the Cleveland Browns.
Sixteen youths from the probation rewards program at juvenile court were to attend the Browns' game Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as guests of the team, said Judge Theresa Dellick.
"This is exciting for a lot of these kids who otherwise probably would never get a chance to see a professional football game," the judge said.
Browns President Carmen Policy, a Youngstown native, donated tickets for the game after hearing of the rewards program, Judge Dellick said. The program recognizes youths who have made substantial positive changes in their behavior.
"This is not rewarding juveniles for bad behavior, but rewarding them for turning around their lives," she said.
Policy could not be reached, but said in a written statement that he donated the tickets because he likes the mission of the rewards program.
Coach's approach: Policy said he could not help but see parallels between the rewards program and the philosophy of Browns head coach Butch Davis.
"He is tough, but when a football player shows some responsibility and effort he extends a reward," Policy said. "We need to recognize hard work and effort."
Judge Dellick said Policy's donation "falls right in line" with the court's participation in a national program that puts emphasis on rehabilitating juvenile offenders rather than simply incarcerating them.
Known as Balanced Approach to Restorative Justice, the program provides positive reinforcement for good behavior. Anne Louise White, comprehensive strategy coordinator, said that is one of the key elements in leading youths to develop healthy behavior.