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$435K Federal Grant Aimed At Keeping First-Time Offenders Out Of Jail

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — City prosecutors have received a $435,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice under a project aimed at keeping first-time, low level offenders out of jail while letting neighborhood panels decide how the criminal will make amends.

KNX 1070's Jon Baird reports the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office was one of only four prosecutor's offices in the nation chosen to receive a Smart Prosecution grant by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP).

$435K Federal Grant Aimed At Keeping First-Time Offenders Out Of Jail

The OJP grant will cover two full-time positions for two years to staff the City Attorney's Neighborhood Justice Panels in South Los Angeles and Hollywood, according to City Attorney Mike Feuer. The panels are part of Feuer's Neighborhood Justice Program, which will begin in October.

Feuer was a speaker at the Association of Prosecuting Attorney's (APA) National Conference in Dallas where Beth McGarry, Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel for OJP, made the announcement.

Under the program, a first-time offender who opts to participate could end up painting over graffiti or returning an item that was stolen as an alternative to serving jail time, prosecutors said.

Feuer said those who follow through with the program will not only avoid facing criminal charges, but also get a second chance at life.

"We take offenders and we can turn their lives around," he said.

Prosecutors from four cities will work closely with the APA's national training and technical assistance program to develop and test smart prosecution practices to create a more efficient and effective national criminal justice system.

In addition to Los Angeles, Smart Prosecution sites will include Chicago, Houston and San Francisco.

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