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Juvenile Probation invests in getting young offenders back on track

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RED BLUFF, Calif. - Tehama County's Juvenile Probation Department is using an innovative program to help young offenders turn their lives around.

In juvenile hall, offenders are monitored 24/7, with strict structure and empty white brick rooms.

However, good behavior is rewarded, with a room full of creativity.

Tehama County Chief Probation Officer Richard Muench created a Makerspace to engage offenders and keep them involved with something positive.

"These kids have proven themselves to be non-traditional learners. This is a non-traditional learning environment," Muench said.

He started the program a year and a half ago, focusing on learning with touch.

At juvenile hall, the young offenders are still provided with an education, but the Makerspace room is no traditional classroom.

"What this does is it activates a positive inclination for them to go back and learn, to ask the questions because this is far more fun than the traditional classroom," Muench said.

The community is involved as well, volunteering their time to teach skills like playing guitar, graphic design and other arts and crafts.

"The kids love knitting. In the winter we do a whole bunch of hats and scarves and give them to the homeless," Muench said.

There is even a 3D printer and computers for the young offenders to learn and create with.

"There hasn't been one graffiti mark placed in it, in the 18 months. The kids respect what has been given to them," Muench said.

As far as he knows, the Makerspace program for juvenile hall is the only one in the country.

"These kids are kids. they may have committed crimes, but they are our future," Muench said.

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