The Ashe County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council unanimously approved to give $2,119 to Project Challenge following the action of Wilkes County’s JCPC.
The Wilkes JCPC approved giving $20,000 to the North Carolina based non-profit and an additional $5,300 for its restitution bank. The funds from Ashe County would also go into its bank.
“They would like to increase the restitution bank and would like to start accepting level two cases,” said Grier Hurley, chairperson of the council.
The money would cover the 23rd district, which consists of Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
Right now, the non-profit only takes on level one cases, or cases where the restitution is under $500. With the additional funding, the organization could help with some higher restitution costs.
“The way the program proposal that Project Challenge has done for this year doesn’t allow for anything over $500,” said Bill Davis, chief court councilor of the 23rd district. “I’m not sure how it got there or got to be that way, but it’s not in line with the statute and what the statute allows the judge to order, but it’s also not in line with our policy.”
The program allows juveniles to work off their restitution by doing community service around the area. Project Challenge gives the money the children earn to the court and any additional funds then have to be covered by the juvenile or their parents.
“This restitution money goes straight to the victim of the crime,” Davis said. “(Juveniles) can work that money off through Project Challenge. Project Challenge sends the money to the clerk’s office and the clerk’s office sends a check to that victim based on what the court ordered.”
Kathy Weaver, Project Challenge Program Coordinator for Ashe and Allegheny counties, said in her monthly report students did community service activities at numerous places including Wilkes Community College, Daymark Recovery Services and Ashe and Allegheny County Courthouses.
“When we work in community service, we focus on the money part first,” she said. “We get that money done as soon as possible.”
According to the Project Challenge website, the participant has the option of using the restitution bank or paying their debt by other means. Using the bank is strictly voluntary.
“It is really nice to tell that victim that there is a way this juvenile can be held accountable,” Davis said. “Not only going to court, but also being accountable and paying back.”
The next meeting will take place Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the Agricultural Services building.
In other action taken by the board:
• Project Challenge, Mediation, mentors and Barium Springs presented their monthly reports.
• The council established a planning board to help plan for future meetings
• The council briefly discussed the state of bullying in the county.
• The council discussed potential additions to members as allowed in the by-laws. These members would include an additional member of law enforcement, two youth members and the county manager when one has been named.