Scott County hopes to combat the epidemic of youths stealing cars by having juvenile first time offenders meet with their victims. The idea being the victims can explain the damage having their vehicle stolen has caused them and the offender can be held accountable for the harm they caused.  That's the crux of Davenport's Auto Theft Accountability Program as explained in the Quad City Times.

My first  gut level reaction is, if my car were stolen I don't want to meet with the punk who stole it. I don't want that person to know anything about me or my family. My second reaction is, based on how I've heard many of these stolen cars get left, how could a youthful first time offender pay to fix it? I think it might be difficult for these kids to get $500 to pay an insurance deductible. Much less the actual cost of repairs and body work.

Jeremy Kaiser, director of the Scott County Juvenile Detention Center and diversion programs, pretty much told the paper some people, like myself, would be skeptical and that this isn't a silver bullet that would stop the car theft epidemic in the Quad Cities, but that it would hopefully slow it down.

He went on to tell the Times many youths probably couldn't make full restitution so a plan could include doing yard work, house work or chores for the victim. The point of all this is to get the young thief to have empathy for the victim and get them to think about the consequences of their actions. Of course putting those kids to work may or may not help the victim pay the insurance deductible or the cost of getting their vehicle fixed.

It sounds like Scott County wants victims to have empathy for the young first time offenders. Maybe I should, but this isn't getting caught smoking in school. This isn't stealing a pack of gum from Hy-Vee. This is teens who somehow think it's a good idea to steal a vehicle that costs $15,000.00 and up. They then brazenly drive through town sometimes causing property damage. Sometimes they're armed.

The Quad City Times said similar programs in New Zealand and Oakland, California have worked "in lowering recidivism and providing satisfaction to the victims and promoting accountability."  I'll be interested to see if this program does lower recidivism. I'll also be interested to see if car theft victims are satisfied by the resolution provided to them.

What do you think about this?

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