Youth Celebrates Court Graduation Remotely

Ben L. is OYA’s third youth to graduate from RAP Court, Lane County’s juvenile drug court program.

Ben L. is the third Oregon Youth Authority youth to graduate from RAP Court, Lane County’s juvenile drug court program, but his graduation was a bit unusual.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, RAP Court canceled in-person hearings, including graduations. These events usually involve a youth literally shredding their record to symbolize the closing of their case.

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The RAP Court team gathered on video chat to celebrate Ben L.’s graduation from RAP Court.

Despite not being able to literally shred his record, Ben’s case is effectively closed, thanks to his hard work and to RAP Court’s flexibility to adjust to the stay at home orders.

In normal times, youth go through a series of check-ins with RAP Court staff and partners, weekly court appearances, meetings with drug and alcohol counselors, regular urinalysis testing, and incentives for accomplishments.

At the end, they complete a public service project and present about it in court on graduation day.

But thanks to the pandemic, Ben had to learn how to use a special point sheet to track his progress, participate in school online, have his UAs administered at home by his mom, and remotely complete his public service project.

His RAP Court team put together a graduation video and set up a video chat to congratulate him on his achievement. The video features Lane County counselors, the RAP Court coordinator, three OYA juvenile parole/probation officers, and juvenile court Judge Ilisa Rooke-Ley.

“Ben has achieved the longest term sobriety I’ve ever seen in RAP Court,” said Lani Thomas, OYA JPPO who works with RAP Court youth.

She also pointed out that her fellow JPPO Brian Persinger has done “an amazing job” as a mentor of Ben for the past several years. She said JPPO Jeremy Fawver also has been a big support for Ben recently.

Thomas said that Ben was in RAP Court years ago, prior to his OYA commitment, and wanted to return to the program once he left his OYA residential program.

Ben hopes to someday work in criminal justice or become a drug and alcohol counselor.

Read more about RAP Court and OYA youth: Lane County Youth Embraces Recovery.

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