By David Madden

CAMDEN. N.J. (CBS) – Camden County officials celebrated the graduation of a dozen teens in a 15-year-old program in Camden that targets first-time juvenile offenders for extra attention in an attempt to turn those young lives around.

The first offenders are ordered to go to “the MALL” which stands for Multi Agency Life Line. It’s a program that was started by Camden City police, and has been continued by the County run department.

Juveniles entering the criminal justice system for the first time get the chance to see their offense reduced or thrown out, but not before attending the after school program four days a week for three months.

“Youth are gonna be youth,” County Freeholder Scot McCray tells KYW Newsradio. “But you put them in a positive scenario in different situations and they really start to see that there are other alternatives out there.”

So how effective is the program? Last year, 21 people ages 12 to 17 went through it, and only three have returned to court.

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE