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Local honored for work with area youth

CARLSBAD — The San Diego County Drug Free Community Coalitions in San Diego County and the Juvenile Justice Panel will be honoring Carlsbad resident and member of the Carlsbad Police Department, Linda Ledesma, at its Red Ribbon Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18 at the Sheraton Mission Valley, 1433 Camino Del Rio South. Cost is $35. For reservations, visit brought the Carlsbad Juvenile Justice Program (CJJP) to the department 20 years ago and has been positively influencing the lives of young people as the CJJP Coordinator since the inception of this unique process.

The CJJP is collaboration between law enforcement, schools and community members to help first-time juvenile offenders not become repeat offenders. This program targets eligible youth who have been contacted by the police and accepts misdemeanors (excluding traffic offenses); select non-violent felonies; non-violent incidents, minor sophistication and small monetary value type of incidents; as well as misdemeanor substance abuse offenses.

To affect this type of change, the juvenile must appear before a panel consisting of community, school, peer and law enforcement representatives. A key component of this process is the juvenile’s own accounting of the incident as well as their admission to their guilt and responsibility for the act.

This program provides 3,000 hours of community-based service a year, touching the Boys & Girls Clubs, church groups, colleges, Brother Benno’s and others. There are more than 15 individual programs, 60 agency referrals, and 20 special events which benefit from the 40 panels presented each year involving hundreds of youth.

Through her efforts, Ledesma has impacted the ability of local youth organizations and gang/drug abuse efforts, including the Hispanic Network, the North Coastal Prevention Coalition, Youth Enrichment Services (YES) and the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth.

Participation in the program involves a commitment from the offender and the offender’s parents. Should either decline the offer to participate, the case is formally processed through the juvenile court system. The panel, consisting of community members, a peer representative and the program coordinator meet weekly to discuss cases.