Melanie Brennan, director of the Department of Youth Affairs, addressed the Rotary Club of Northern Guam today to speak about DYA’s mission, programs, and reforming repeat offenders.
Brennan spoke about misconceptions about DYA and said that most of the kids taken into DYA are adjudicated and are first-time offenders. The offenders who come from supportive families are generally released by the judge back to the family.
She stressed that DYA should really be for those that are violent, destructive of property, or repeat offenders.
The director also stated it’s important for the community to know that mingling low-risk kids with those that are considered high-risk at DYA only causes more harm than good.
She said low-risk kids should instead be given opportunities to divert their behavior.
The Juvenile Justice Reform program, which was adopted by the Superior Court in 2014, has helped mitigate DYA’s intake numbers.
“DYA’s population went down from 8-100 kids to just 30 kids. That’s really significant because what juvenile justice reform does is it addresses the special needs of kids. How you address those special needs is you have to do full-blown, evidence-based assessments on these kids,” Brennan said.
Brennan is also trying to implement more youth development activities and programs for those at DYA to better prepare them for a more successful future.