E.M.P.O.W.E.R. Program

Encouraging More Positive

Opportunities With Empathy and

Respect

The Law School Preparation Institute and the El Paso County Juvenile Probation Department collaborated to develop and run the EMPOWER Program, which launched in May of 2012. EMPOWER is a deferred prosecution program uniquely tailored to the El Paso community for youth with serious mental illness.  The goal of the program is to divert juveniles with serious mental illness from the juvenile justice system, and instead link them to services that are more appropriate for their successful rehabilitation.

In EMPOWER, a multidisciplinary team works with the children and their families to develop and execute appropriate treatment plans.  Treatment plans include: 

  • Education regarding mental illnesses and manifestations of those illnesses;
  • Education on parenting skills;
  • Linkage to appropriate and sustainable psychiatric and therapeutic services;
  • Assistance in getting back on track in school;
  • Exploration of career goals and post high school opportunities;
  • Training on seeking, obtaining, and maintaining employment;
  • Assistance in improving relations among peers and family members;
  • Team building in the home for long-term stabilization; and
  • Accountability for actions through restorative justice.

In attempting to avoid recidivism through this holistic approach, EMPOWER aims to empower the youth and their families to walk a better path toward a more productive future.  

LSPI plays a dual role in the program.  EMPOWER interns from the LSPI program serve as either Moderators or Compliance Monitors.  Along with Professor Lisa J. Soto, and supported by the 65th Judicial District Court and the Juvenile Court Referees, the Moderators preside over formal courtroom status reviews where youth and their families report on their progress and new developments in their treatment plan work.  The Compliance Monitors present LSPI-developed modules to help participants foster academic success and develop career and educational goals, healthy life skills, and learn how to seek, obtain, and maintain employment.  When youth and families encounter barriers to compliance, Compliance Monitors work to empower them with the skills and tools to facilitate successful completion of their treatment plan requirements.  Through EMPOWER, LSPI interns get an active inside look into the Juvenile Justice System and learn about state law in this regard. 

For further information, contact Professor Lisa J. Soto at lsoto9@utep.edu or (915) 747-8581.


EMPOWER Program Kickoff with UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

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