First Presenter's Institution

Riverside County District Attorney's Office

Second Presenter's Institution

Riverside County District Attorney's Office

Third Presenter's Institution

Riverside County District Attorney's Office

Fourth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fifth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Location

Session 3 (Verelst)

Strand #1

Safety & Violence Prevention

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

This presentation will detail how prosecutors and schools can work together to ensure the well-being of all children and youth by specifically addressing core tenants of the HANDS and HOME strands.

HANDS: This presentation explains multiple unique law enforcement and education based intervention approaches to keeping youth out of the criminal justice system and keeping them in the classroom instead.

HOME: This presentation explains how our Crime Prevention Unit serves youth at-risk for incorrigible or illegal behavior via education, mentorship, and utilization of local resources in order to strengthen family and other vital social bonds.

Brief Program Description

Ideal for law enforcement, educators, and all citizens working with youth at-risk, this unique presentation explains how prosecutors in one of the nation’s largest counties have engaged local school districts, community based organizations, and even ex-gang members to create an award winning Crime Prevention Unit designed to keep youth in the classroom and out of the criminal justice system.

Summary

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office proposes to have three of its most senior Crime Prevention Unit attorneys present on some of our Unit’s most innovative programs:

a. Parent Power;

b. Gang and Mentorship Education (GAME); and

c. Special projects like Real Men Read (RMR).

These prosecutors will explain how each program was created, is currently operated, and how similar programs can be replicated anywhere in the country with the help of school and community engagement.

PARENT POWER

Though there are many complex societal reasons why youth join gangs, the reality is that how a parent or guardian raises a child is the single most important influence in shaping that child’s behavior. This presentation teaches parents/guardians why youth get involved in gangs, the warning signs of gang involvement, how to construct healthy and positive relationships with their children, and what parents need to know and do to keep their children out of gangs. This Parent Power presentation has been recognized by a White House initiative, Harvard University, and the California State Association of Counties as an effective and innovative community improvement best practice.

GAME

GAME is an anti-gang program designed to reduce youth gang violence while seeking to educate its audiences about the dangers of gang membership and substance abuse. GAME presentations are facilitated by prosecutors with assistance from real hardcore ex-gang members (some of whom have been shot, incarcerated, and permanently paralyzed as a result of their gang involvement) and other community members that have experienced the realities and repercussions of gang violence firsthand. GAME is presented to all schools and community groups wishing to prevent and eliminate gang activity in their schools and neighborhoods.

RMR

Real Men Read (RMR) is a literacy and mentorship program for young men incarcerated inside juvenile rehabilitation facilities and for youth at-risk of entering the criminal justice system. Recognizing the direct correlation between literacy and incarceration rates, RMR was designed to create an interest in reading amongst its participants while also providing them with guest speakers from local schools and communities that serve as positive role models and mentors.

Evidence

There is no question that our Crime Prevention Unit’s innovative models are effective as Riverside County recently experienced a 46% decrease in juvenile court criminal filings over a four year period, helping youth at-risk remain in the educational system and out of the Juvenile Justice System.

The Parent Power Presentation has been recognized by a White House initiative, Harvard University, and the California State Association of Counties as an effective and innovative community improvement best practice. Due to its effectiveness, it is even currently being modeled in El Salvador to address gang violence in that country.

GAME averages 250 presentations (gang awareness, drug awareness, parent education, and prescription drug awareness presentations) to approximately 23,000 people each year.

Since RMR began in 2013, over 1,500 youth at-risk of entering the criminal justice system have participated in the program and have read over 1,200,000 pages of literature.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Gerry Lopez

J.D., Managing Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Riverside, CA

Mr. Lopez has been a prosecutor for the past 30 years and recognized early in his career that justice and public safety required, not only incarceration of violent criminals, but also meaningful efforts to divert young people away from crime and delinquency. Mr. Lopez has spent his career dedicated toward youth delinquency prevention, and intervention programs and strategies.

In 1997, Mr. Lopez became the lead attorney of the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team (YAT) program and the primary influence in the expansion and improvement of the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) program. In 2005, Mr. Lopez created a countywide parenting education and gang and drug awareness program called GAME (Gang Awareness, Mentorship, and Education). In 2013, Mr. Lopez was appointed to the California Juvenile Justice Standing Committee which serves a critical role in making recommendations to the state regarding the juvenile justice system. In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Lopez was honored to be one of only a few chosen to serve as international trainers for a White House program designed to reduce youth gang participation in Central America and the United States. In 2015, Mr. Lopez became the first ever supervisor of a newly created, cutting edge prosecutorial team called the Crime Prevention Unit. The unit is responsible for enhancing public safety through extensive community-wide prosecution driven prevention and intervention efforts.

Evelyn Essenwanger

J.D., Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Riverside, CA

Mrs. Essenwanger has served as a prosecutor in Riverside County, CA for the past twelve years. Until 2012, Mrs. Essenwanger spent her career prosecuting crimes involving domestic violence, identity theft, insurance fraud, and worker’s compensation fraud. In 2012, her passion for youth mentorship and juvenile crime prevention led her to join the office’s Juvenile Division where she began working as the coordinator for Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), now known as GAME (Gang Awareness Mentoring and Education).

As the GAME coordinator, Mrs. Essenwanger provides gang awareness education and prevention trainings to youth and educators. Through GAME, Mrs. Essenwanger also delivers powerful Drug Abuse and Opioid Awareness presentations, engages in community partnerships designed to reduce youth gang participation, and serves as a community liaison specializing in youth delinquency and intervention services.

Hunter Taylor

J.D., Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Riverside, CA

Mr. Taylor has been a prosecutor for twelve years and has tried cases involving all types of crimes ranging from drug offenses to homicide. He is currently the Team Leader of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Crime Prevention Unit and the founder of Real Men Read, a young men’s literacy program primarily operated in Riverside County’s Juvenile Detention Facilities. Mr. Taylor is also an adjunct professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law in Orange County, CA where he teaches Legal Negotiations, California Evidence, and Client Interviewing and Counseling.

Keyword Descriptors

Juvenile Justice, Crime Prevention, Prosecutor, Outreach, Community

Presentation Year

2020

Start Date

3-9-2020 3:00 PM

End Date

3-9-2020 4:15 PM

Special Projects.pdf (713 kB)
Special Projects

GAME Program.pdf (1397 kB)
GAME Program

Pop Up Shop Video.mp4 (75731 kB)
Crime Prevention Unit Video.mp4 (79766 kB)

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Mar 9th, 3:00 PM Mar 9th, 4:15 PM

Plugging the Pipeline: Prosecutors and Educators Collaborating to Eliminate the School to Prison Pipeline

Session 3 (Verelst)

Ideal for law enforcement, educators, and all citizens working with youth at-risk, this unique presentation explains how prosecutors in one of the nation’s largest counties have engaged local school districts, community based organizations, and even ex-gang members to create an award winning Crime Prevention Unit designed to keep youth in the classroom and out of the criminal justice system.