Kids on probation to clean graffiti

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Yakima County's juvenile justice system is adding a new piece to one of its programs. It's a trickle-down effect from Tuesday's deal between the courts and county commission.

Yakima County's court system wasted no time putting a program in place for the juvenile justice system. Kids on probation and in the diversion program will clean graffiti as part of the restorative community service program.

Yakima County Court Administrator Robyn Berndt said the agreement with county commissioners made it happen.

"If I didn't have the money moving forward from previous years, I would not have the money available to just be able to create a program last minute like this," said Berndt.

That money makes it possible to hire two supervisors to mentor the kids. More than 150 of them in the program will start the cleanup work in a couple of weeks.

"When they did their crimes, they off-balanced the scale and by giving back to the community, they bring it back into balance," said Restorative Community Service Coordinator Karolynn Tom.

The Yakima County Juvenile Court said with more financial freedom, they'll be able to add more programs and the process to add these programs will be a lot faster.

"This will just make it a little more efficient for us to be able to get everything done," said Berndt. "Creating positions, all of it."

Other plans include adding more mentoring programs. Updating the case management system is also on the list. A sealed deal could help the court system move along faster than it used to.

The program will take ten kids at a time for the graffiti cleanup work.