FLORENCE, AZ – They represent business, farming, education, corrections, law enforcement, public health and other professions. They give tirelessly – each of the 12 logging in excess of 500 volunteer hours per year. But Pinal County’s Juvenile Court Community Advisory Board just got a big statewide thank you from Governor Jan Brewer after they earned the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award in the Small Organization category.
The 12 members making up the Community Advisory Board, or CAB, hail from nine different communities and provide essential community support to the juvenile justice system in Pinal County. Their mission is to ensure that the county’s practices reflect the best interest of youth, families, victims and the community. The CAB provides special services to youth on probation and in detention. An annual Youth Summit provided 80 probationers education on topics ranging from health and fitness to substance abuse and domestic violence prevention.
“This is a very involved group of volunteers, it’s not just a steering committee – these people are involved with the youth providing mentoring, support and enrichment,” Program Administrator Donna McBride said. “Youth on probation or in detention depend on the involvement of adults who can mentor them and be models of success. No matter how they arrived in the juvenile justice system, our volunteers are there to illuminate the path forward and onward to a successful future.”
One of the annual signature events that the CAB presents is the Mock Trial Competition and it’s the only one of its kind in Arizona. Nearly all of the county’s Superior Court judges volunteer their time for the day while as many as 200 middle school and high school students take over the courthouse. The students learn firsthand about the justice system by being part of it. This year’s event in March marked the 11th annual Mock Trial Competition.
Several of the CAB’s other high profile activities include: TALK! Visitors’ Mentoring Program, Probation and Youth Justice Center Incentive Program, Drug Court, Youth Summit and GED graduations.
Several years ago, 11 Arizona counties had CABs but many folded due to a lack of state funding. Pinal’s CAB got together to discuss the funding plight.
“There was no question in anyone’s mind, this group would carry on their work because it was too important to support the youth of Pinal County,” Program Administrator Donna McBride said. “The work they do on behalf of the young people we serve was too important to let money stand in the way.”
“Governor Brewer’s recognition of the value and importance of Pinal County’s Juvenile Court Community Advisory Board is an incredible honor,” said Todd Zweig, Juvenile Court Services Director. “Our volunteers support the juveniles, provide educational value to schools and help initiate community service programs that allow youth in the justice system to repair the damage done by their crime. We hope this program can serve as a model for others.”
Editor’s Note: Copper Area News Reporter John Hernandez is a member of this group. Congratulations, John!