Since 1979, Street Law has partnered with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to provide law-related education programs for pre-adjudicated youths and youths on probation. Save Our Street (SOS) began in 1995 to promote diversion and to teach young people about the laws and public policies related to weapons and weapons offenses; how to safely resolve conflict without the use of weapons; and how to access community resources and work effectively with lawyers and other adults. The program engages youths through the use of Street Law's trademark interactive teaching strategies and the involvement of subject matter experts from the community (community resource people).
The SOS program and curriculum have been successfully modified for use in other jurisdictions, including Connecticut and New York.
Youths who complete the SOS program
- Can describe how guns and violence affect young people and adults
- Are able to communicate effectively with adults in the community (e.g., lawyers, court workers, and police officers)
- Are capable of discussing the laws and legal system that are part of their everyday lives
- Possess the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to access community resources
- Benefit from strengthened critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution skills
An evaluation of SOS found that youths who attended at least three sessions had re-arrest rates for weapons-related charges that were 93.5% lower than youths who didn't participate in the program.
- Youths are referred by probation staff 8-week cohorts, up to 15 youths per class
- Classes are held at the D.C. Superior Court in designated courtrooms on Saturdays from 12–2 p.m.
- Youths will participate in a recognition event at the end of each 8-week cohort
- Upon completion youths will receive a certificate and Street Law will submit a report to the court
- Street Law staff will attend disposition hearings in support of youths who successfully complete the program
We are dedicated to engaging parents in the SOS program by keeping in touch via mailings, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings. Parents are invited to the program orientation to learn more about the program and the court system, encourage their children's participation, and learn how they can best advocate for their kids. Parents are also welcome to attend any of the 8 sessions.
We are currently developing a special program that will allow all parents to participate in "parents-only" sessions where they can learn what their children learn. These sessions will begin in 2015.