The Houston Independent School District, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and the Houston Police Department joined forces Monday to announce the launch of a juvenile justice diversion program that aims to transform the lives of HISD students in the Fifth Ward.
The program, which will be run by the Fifth Ward redevelopment corporation’s new Center for Urban Transformation, will assist students, ages 12 to 16 who are accused of nonviolent offenses. Instead of utilizing the court system, the CUT program will offer mentorship opportunities, volunteer work, and community-based supportive services.
The program is expected to serve between 70 and 100 students in its first year and will operate on several HISD campuses, including Wheatley High School, Fleming and McReynolds middle schools, and Secondary DAEP.
“Lack of education and crime go hand in hand,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “The focus of education has to be on the village, and you represent our village. We need you in HISD so that we can have a successful city.”
The CUT program will also utilize restorative justice conferences to address victims’ needs and help students to make amends and build skills in conflict resolution. Students who complete the program will not carry the weight of an arrest or adjudication on their record.