(Community Alternative Work Service)
Crime is detrimental to community life and requires a response, which repairs the harm done to the community. Community service reflects an act that is positive reparation to the community. Through community service, juvenile offenders have an opportunity to learn about what their actions have on others, and a forum is developed that creates practical life skills. Not only does community service teach juveniles new skills, but it also helps foster the development and the sense of caring for others.
Juveniles perform community service as a condition of their probation. The amount of hours juveniles must perform is based on the seriousness of their offense. Community service is performed at over 150 non-profit agencies throughout the county and on work crews.
CAWS II, Young Offenders Program is a Court operated intervention program for Lehigh County's youngest offenders (ages 10-13 years old). The program's purpose is to hold juveniles accountable while, at the same time, improve their competencies with an educational component. Juveniles are enrolled in an educational/intervention program for approximately 8-10 hours as a consequence for delinquent activity. The topics for the program are broken down into six (6) sessions. Each session is one and one half-hours. Juveniles are given a number of "action oriented" homework assignments. Guest speakers, parental involvement, victim input, videos, and weekly assigned "accountability" projects are utilized.
This program offers an opportunity for a juvenile to learn about their behavior so that they may become more aware of the consequences of the Criminal Justice System, as well as learn the skills that compliment an acceptable pro-social lifestyle. Juveniles can also earn up to $250.00 to pay towards restitution owed to their victims(s) for attending and completing the program.
CAWS III, Victim Restitution Program began in January of 1985 to demonstrate the Lehigh County Juvenile Court's concern for the victims of juvenile crime. The restitution program allows juveniles who have committed delinquent acts to perform volunteer work at various non-profit agencies throughout the County of Lehigh. For their efforts, the juveniles will earn restitution money, which will be forwarded to their victims. The juvenile is not paid directly, but for every hour that he/she works the victim will receive the state minimum wage rate. A juvenile may earn a maximum of $1,000.00 in the restitution program. Since the department began the restitution program, over $700,000 has been paid to victims of juvenile crime.
Juveniles that are court ordered to complete community service are placed into a group that will focus not only on the completion of community service hours, but also on helping them to develop skills that will help them to avoid future criminal behaviors. At the present time Lehigh County Juvenile Probation is working with Lehigh Carbon Community College and the local 4H club. These programs work with juveniles to develop skills such as moral reasoning, workforce development, life skills, healthy ways to communicate as well as social skills. In these groups, juveniles will complete community service hours while learning skills that can be used to help them obtain employment and become productive members of their communities. While completing different community service projects, the juveniles are taught the importance of positive relationships and developing the confidence and self-esteem needed to make good decisions and believe in themselves to avoid future criminal behaviors.
If your organization is interested in becoming one of our worksites, you must meet the following criteria:
1. The agency requesting services must be non-profit.
2. The agency must provide supervision or allow the probation department to send a work crew supervisor to monitor the juveniles.
3. A contract agreement must be signed, which utilizes the state insurance coverage incase a youth is injured while performing community service.
If you meet these criteria and are seriously interested in having juveniles complete their community service hours with your agency, please contact us.
The "Crew" snow removal program began in the year 2000. The program is a cooperative effort between the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department and the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services. The mission of the program is to remove snow from the properties of senior citizens and disabled adults in the City of Allentown. When there is a significant snow, pre-qualified applicants will have their handicap ramp, parking spot and sidewalks, removed of snow. Qualified City of Allentown applicants are entered onto the Crew list based on geographic location (North, South, East, and West). Every effort is made to accommodate as many property owners as possible within three days of the snowfall. The criteria for being included on the snow removal list and how to obtain an application form are explained in detail below.
In 1995, the CAWS Program began an organic gardening project with the support of Rodale Press, the City of Allentown, the Second Harvest Food Bank, and the County of Lehigh. The entire project, the soil preparation work, planting of vegetables and herbs, watering and weeding and harvesting, was completed by juveniles performing community service work. Rodale provided the "seed money" and a Master Gardener. The City of Allentown provided equipment, compost, and supplies. The Food Bank donated land and the County provided supervision. All of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers were donated to the Food Bank for distribution to local soup kitchens, shelters, etc. In all, over 3,000 pounds of produce was harvested and donated. The goal of the project was not just growing produce, but also served an alternative therapeutic approach to rehabilitating juveniles. A senior citizen mentoring program began, which has juveniles work with senior citizens who are Master Gardeners. Since its conception in 1995, and because of the tremendous community support, the Second Harvest garden has doubled in size to one half acre. An additional garden has been developed in Whitehall. A total of 3,000 plus pounds of produce and other above mentioned items are grown and given out to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters each year. Anyone interested in volunteering their time to help maintain any one of these gardens, please contact the Community Service Department at 610-782-3143.
The firewood project began in the spring of 2005. The purpose of the project is to raise money for victims of juvenile crime and/or to donate money to emergency relief agencies. In 2005 the money collected from the project was given to the American Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Juveniles help collect, split and stack wood, as well as assist in loading customers' trucks. Residents can buy a pickup truck load of wood for $75.00. A team approach from local retailers, the County Parks Department, and other individuals who have donated trees helped the project get off the ground. A seventy-five year old customer commented that the firewood project is a true blessing because it's easy for him to get wood. As stated by the customer, "there is not much that I can think is as nice as the glow of a fire on a cold winter night." People interested in purchasing firewood or donating trees to the program can contact the Community Service Department, at 610-782-3143. The program has a cap of 60 customers, who can be eligible to purchase wood, per season. In most cases, a new customer can only be added if a current customer chooses to be taken off the list. Customers can plan on picking up firewood on Saturday or Sunday mornings during the months of October, November and early December.
Since 1987, the CAWS-operated recycling center, in cooperation with the City of Allentown, has removed over 100 million pounds of materials from the waste stream. Allentown provides site management and transportation of recyclables Monday through Friday. Through Allentown collection contract, Waste Management provides a full-time employee to the Center. Lehigh County Juvenile Probation provides site supervision of juveniles during weeknights and also Saturdays and Sundays.
Lehigh County Juvenile Probation started the Center by accepting newspaper and aluminum cans in 1988 as a community service work-site to raise funds for juvenile crime victims. The Allentown Recycling Program joined the project in 1989 and expanded the Center to accept a full range of recyclables to service businesses as well as residents. The Center accepts newspaper, corrugated cardboard, mixed paper/magazines, paperboard, phone books, books, aluminum cans, foil and pie plates, tin/steel cans, bottles and plastic containers, scrap metal, clothing/textiles and household batteries.
The Allentown Recycling Center is located at 15th and Martin Luther King Boulevard and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center generates the proceeds to fund the victim restitution program in the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department. The victim restitution program is explained in detail in the CAWS III section above.
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101-1614 • (610) 782-3000