The award recognized programs aimed at "Protecting Children, Families and Communities." Three programs were highlighted in the nomination and all three resulted from the diligent, hard work of the Pinal County Juvenile Court Community Advisory Board. This is an all-volunteer group made up of diverse professional, cultural and community backgrounds. They are appointed by the Presiding Juvenile Judge to help evaluate and enhance services provided by Juvenile Court Services. The common interest is to ensure that Juvenile Court practices continue to reflect the best interests of youth, families, victims and the community.
"The efforts of the Community advisory Board have allowed the Juvenile Court to continue with its mission of empowering our children to make wise choices. By providing youth with educational assistance when needed, by affirming their positive progress on probation through additional incentives, and by focusing on the fact that character does in fact count, we remind young people that they have control of their futures," said Judge Stephen McCarville.
Judge McCarville handles the Juvenile Court cases that are heard at the Superior Court in Pinal County.
"I am proud of the Community Advisory Board for all of the great work they have done on behalf of our children," the Judge added. "They have given the courts additional resources to benefit not only the child, but all of us in these times of financial concerns."
The nomination that earned the prestigious award mentions three Superior Court initiatives:
- "Probation Works" Incentive Program – Working with probation staff, the Community Advisory Board developed a plan to teach responsibility by rewarding probationers for good behavior. A point system allows probationers to gain rewards for improving their grades, completing community service projects or paying restitution ahead of schedule. Points can be redeemed for movie passes, pizza, school supplies, etc.
- Character Counts Essay Contest – Now in its third year, the contest is open to Pinal youth from K-12, including home-schooled youth. Essays on one of the "six pillars of character" – Caring, Trustworthy, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness and Citizenship – are judged by the Community Advisory Board. In 2008, students submitted 825 essays.
- Youth Justice Center Enrichment Programs – The Community Advisory Board has been instrumental in bringing several initiatives that enrich the lives of the young people serving detention at the Youth Justice Center. They created a photography and art program; initiated a partnership with the YMCA, which resulted the donation of $17,000 worth of fitness equipment to begin a Healthy Body/Healthy Mind program; and developed a music program, complete with donated instruments and books.
The Superior Court's Mental Health Task Force earned an Honorable Mention for its efforts toward forming a better, more comprehensive approach to individuals in the justice system who are affected by mental health conditions.