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home : education : schools July 22, 2014

3/26/2013 12:34:00 PM
Community service pays dividends
Young workers remove barbed wire as part of a restorative community service program. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Young workers remove barbed wire as part of a restorative community service program. photo provided

Juvenile great horned owl, the victim of old unwanted barbed-wire fencing. photo by Jim Anderson
+ click to enlarge
Juvenile great horned owl, the victim of old unwanted barbed-wire fencing. photo by Jim Anderson

By Jim Anderson

Court-mandated community-service work projects involving removing old barbed-wire helps protect wildlife in Sisters Country, while providing an opportunity for offenders to give back to the community.

The trapped juvenile great horned-owl (pictured on page 17) didn't survive the injury to its wing after it was entangled in an old, abandoned barbed wire fence. But the juvenile offenders who took on the difficult job of gathering up and recycling the wire guaranteed it would never happen again.

But, that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to juvenile community justice programs. Youth and adult offenders can be found conducting:

• Fire fuel reduction projects

• Outside cleanup for seniors and the disabled

• Removal of unwanted barbed wire fencing

• Habitat for Humanity projects

• Forest Service and BLM trail maintenance

• Roadside cleanup

• Supplying firewood for seniors and handicapped

• Graffiti removal

Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice views graffiti removal as one of its best examples of restorative community service for youth offenders, offering youth active participation and an opportunity to help victims and their community in a meaningful and measurable way. It also works to help offenders see another perspective of life.

The local program is committed to continuing the graffiti removal program and strongly encourages immediate reporting of graffiti and other acts of vandalism to law enforcement. To help expedite the graffiti cleanup process, victims should call the Juvenile Community Justice Graffiti Hotline at 541-385-1720 (donations of paint supplies are greatly appreciated).

The county's community-service program has a budget that ranges from $11,000 to $13,000 annually, used for restitution for victims of a crime involving personal property. The offender is charged a fee, and to help repay these fees the offender is encouraged to enter into a work program to help repay the victim, and in time this has a double pay-off.

• In partnership with a local raptor rehabilitation center - Wild Wings in Sisters - Juvenile Community Justice is working with local property owners to improve the environment and reduce accidental injury to birds of prey and other wildlife by removing unwanted barbed wire fencing.

• Youth offenders pay back their community by joining a work crew under close supervision of department staff to cut and remove barbed-wire fencing. The wire is disposed of at a local recycling facility at no charge to the property owner. The raptor rehabilitation center supports juvenile work service efforts by making program referrals and offering educational presentations to the youth about the dangers barbed-wire fencing poses to raptors and other wildlife. The youth also gain more specific knowledge about birds of prey, including live interaction with the birds.

• There is no cost for barbed-wire removal service. Deschutes County residents can improve their property by removing barbed-wire fences to make it safe for raptors and other wildlife while also providing an opportunity for youth offenders to perform work with restorative and educational value. Contact Jim Smith at 541-322-7653 for more information.

In 2007, 4,975 pounds of barbed wire was collected from eight sites and sold to a scrap-metal collector for $248.75; 2008, $380.90; 2009, 18,000 pounds, worth $873.83. In 2012 over 15,000 pounds of barbed wire went to the scrap buyers. Totaled up, it amounts to over 55,659 pounds of barbed wire that brought back $3,342.07 into the community-service budget, all of which was used to reduce the financial debt the offenders owed the


One of the most impressive barbed-wire collecting runs was the 14 miles between Bessie Butte and Newberry Volcano Monument, south of Bend; another was seven miles in the BLM/USFS Cline Butte Recreation Area.

The main thrust of the work program is to prevent offenders from having to go to court for their crime. If a juvenile offender will sign a work agreement and stick to the contract, not only is the costly court appearance eliminated, but the offender has the opportunity to see first-hand the positive parts of the project.

Not only does community service serve as a vital and effective tool in holding youth accountable for their offenses, it supplies a restorative philosophy and approach to our community-service program by viewing a youth's service as more than just punishment for their offenses - but as an opportunity and obligation for the offender to repair the harm they have caused to their victim(s) and the community.

Community-service program staff focus on helping youth develop the following skills:

• Build social and vocational competencies

• Develop healthy attitudes and relationships

• Make positive connections with their community

• Build empathy and accept personal responsibility for their actions.

Sisters Country Weddings

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