Teens or young adults who break the law because of peer pressure or other negative circumstances often are given another chance through a program offered by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
T.R.E.N.D. (Taking Responsibility and Empowering New Direction) was implemented by Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar in October 2018 for first-time, non-violent offenders between the ages of 17 and 24.
“We felt a new approach was needed for these offenders as an alternative to traditional probation and incarceration,” Lohmar says. “The goal is to give the participants a second chance at keeping a clean record, while at the same time exposing them to basic skills that translate to better decision-making.”
Prosecuting Attorney staff work to identify eligible cases, such as trespassing and shoplifting, before charges are filed. Referrals also come from defense attorneys.
After going through an initial background check, staff meets with the applicant and their attorney to evaluate if he or she will succeed in the six-month program. Often family members are present to offer support. If everyone agrees to move forward with T.R.E.N.D., the participant and a representative of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office sign an agreement.
The program is free, but participants need to fulfill several requirements to graduate:
- They must be enrolled in school at least part time or have a job
- Complete community service at an area non-profit
- Write an essay on why it is important to respect people and their property
- Attend a DWI Victims Impact Panel (regardless of their offense)
- If applicable, pay restitution and attend a drug education program.
- Attend two program meetings every month on a variety of life skills topics, including health, finding employment, and budgeting.
Since last October 2018, 40 individuals have participated or are currently enrolled in T.R.E.N.D. Only two individuals have not completed the requirements to graduate from the program.
“We have seen several young people emerge from the program as changed individuals, and we’re very proud of that,” Lohmar says. “This program is the first of its kind in St. Charles County, and we’ve had several other jurisdictions reach out to us in hopes of learning more and possibly starting their own version of T.R.E.N.D.”
For more information, please contact the Prosecuting Attorney's office at 636-949-7355.