The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s JOIN (Juvenile Offender Intervention Network) program offers an alternative to juvenile court prosecution for qualifying minors. JOIN addresses the root causes of delinquent behavior and strives to deter future criminal activity. It is available only to first-time nonviolent juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 17 who qualify and agree to accept the program’s supervision, conditions and consequences.
JOIN provides eligible juvenile offenders with a one-time chance to avoid prosecution. The program does not accept juveniles arrested for the sale of controlled substances, driving under the influence, possession or use of a firearm, residential burglary, sexual assault, felony arson, dissuading or intimidating a witness or any other serious or violent offense.
Referrals to the program come from deputy district attorneys who review juvenile cases prior to filing or supervise juvenile prosecutions.
The program, which is voluntary, is supervised and administered by hearing officers, most of whom have law enforcement experience. Hearing officers closely review all referrals to ensure the juvenile and the offense meet JOIN guidelines. If the juvenile is accepted into the program, the hearing officer coordinates and monitors the juvenile’s and his/her parents’ compliance with the program’s terms and conditions.
If the juvenile and his/her parents do not wish to take part, the District Attorney’s Office may prosecute the young offender in juvenile court. Program hearing officers conducted more than 900 hearings in fiscal year 2013-14 and enrolled more than 600 juveniles into the program. JOIN provided an estimated cost savings to the county’s juvenile justice system of more than $3.8 million.