Re-entry program sought for youths that leave DYA

DYA Director Melanie Brennan (PNC file photo)

Department of Youth Affairs Director Melanie Brennan is seeking a new program to help youths re-enter society after leaving DYA.

According to Brennan, re-entry into society for the youths that enter DYA begins once they enter.

However, currently, there is no formal re-entry program for the youths that leave DYA to reintegrate back into the community.

DYA does have “aftercare” for those that leave. But according to Brennan, the aftercare is limited to youth court involvement.

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Once the youth is no longer required to go to court, aftercare then stops.

“Re-entry is about following them even after court. Doing follow-up and aftercare checks, not only when they’re done with the court and their case is terminated. But really just to follow through and to make sure, that if housing is what they needed, they fill out the application, to follow through. That if they’re on the waiting list, to follow them until they actually get situated in appropriate housing,” Brennan said in an interview with PNC.

Brennan is hoping to start a more formal re-entry program soon.

During last week’s legislative budget hearing on DYA, Brennan said that many of the youths that end up at DYA are there for a multitude of reasons.

She stated that a majority of the youths that are sent to DYA are sent there for non-violent crimes. She believes that only a few of the youths who have committed violent acts and cannot be managed belong in a youth correctional facility.

Brennan said that if there were more programs like Sanctuary, then Guam would be better off as a community.

“So I do believe that youth who cannot be successfully managed in the community, and that is not only for heinous and dangerous crimes, that is for repeat offenders … that no matter what, no matter how many chances you give them, they continue to break the law. So we’re always going to have to have a youth correctional facility. It doesn’t have to be large, and it shouldn’t look like the Department of Corrections for adults. Again it should be developmentally appropriate for even those hard to manage youth,” Brennan said.