State and federal officials have developed a new program aimed at keeping at-risk youths out of prison by putting them to work.
The Youth Environmental Service program, which was started in Florida and the District of Columbia, is a cooperative effort between the Interior and Justice departments and the state.In Utah, it will put about two dozen first-time, non-violent offenders to work at the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro adoption center in Butterfield Canyon in south Salt Lake County.
The project eventually will be expanded to allow youths to work throughout the state for other federal agencies, said state BLM Director Jim Parker.
"If we could have a thousand young people engaged in this kind of work, we could solve an enormous amount of the problems we have with youth violence," Gov. Mike Leavitt said Wednesday.
The program first was launched in February at Florida's Great Cypress National Park.
"Our commitment is to have 1,000 kids in the program by the end of 1995, said Bob Armstrong, assistant secretary for the Interior's Land and Minerals Management Division. "We want to see this program in all 50 states by the end of the year."
Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, said the program is similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps, an unemployment program in the 1930s.
"Here we're putting kids to work who need direction," he said. "It's clear that putting them in jail and prison isn't teaching them how to work, teaching them how to socialize or how to gain a value system."