NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBoise Bench


Bridge Program helps curb youth incarceration

Posted at 9:27 AM, May 27, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — Keeping kids at home and out of jail is the goal of the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center’s Bridge program as they provide youth with a second chance through individual and family counseling.

  • The Bridge Program is a resource center for youth and families, to get ahead of serving possible time in jail.
  • The program has been serving Treasure Valley youth since March 2023, since then they've seen hundreds of families.
  • The goal is to reach teens before they get to the stage of going to the Detention Center. The program takes drop ins, referrals, and calls.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

“Kids are much more likely to re-offend or recidivate if they are placed in detention or even formally processed," said Alison Tate.

Alison Tate is the Director of the Detention Center, right across the street from the Bridge, the program is a resource center in the Ada County looking to keep troubled Treasure Valley teens out of jail.

“An officer has the discretion to do a police report and send it to the prosecutor for a review and possibly charging or they can send a kid to the bridge,” says Tate.

So, let’s say a kid shoplifts or gets caught doing graffiti instead of being booked into the detention center, they can go to the Bridge.

“We offer them to different case plans we have a drop in they come in they refer them out check in maybe once just to make sure they’ve been connected. We also have a short term, they come in, same deal, we refer them out but for a minimum of 60 days we check in once a week,” says Natalie Flores, a family engagement specialist for the Bridge.

The Bridge started in March of 2023. We were there in August when they officially opened the building. Since then they’ve helped hundreds of families curbing the number of incarcerated youth.

Flores added, “It’s trauma that they go through sometimes so just giving them that platform to say hey you have a second chance we’re not just writing you off to saying you’re a troubled kid.”

The Ada County Juvenile Detention Center can house around 70 residents, but fewer than 15 live in the facility. The Bridge program is just one of one of the Juvenile Dention’s programs, working to lower the number of local kids in the system.

Alison Tate added, “The case can take many months six to eight months sometimes; the bridge can get help for the child and family very quickly so there's that timeliness issue. then there's just the fact that we’re looking at what's going on with everyone in the family.”

The goal is to reach teens before they get to the stage of going to the Detention Center. You can find out more about the program online, or in person by dropping in or you can send a referral.