Related to: Youth Justice

Before he was apprehended by the Los Angeles Police Department for a serious assault in the spring of 2023, Trevor says, “I was around the wrong people all the time, and when you’re around the wrong people you really adapt to your environment.”

Trevor also suffered from serious emotional issues, stemming from his father’s early death. “I would wake up angry every day. I would start to see myself taking that out on my family members.” Trevor was also falling farther and farther behind in his online school program.

“Trevor said he was going to school but he wasn’t,” reports his mom, Mya. “I think that was depression… At that time he really didn’t care about school, he really didn’t care about homework, and that’s what caused the family problems.”

Fortunately, Trevor was referred to a program operated by Centinela Youth Services, in Los Angeles, which has been overseeing diversion cases since the 1970s. In recent times, Centinela has forged an agreement with the Los Angeles Police Department to hold off on processing arrests for youth like Trevor, so long as they participate in Centinela’s diversion services.

Both Trevor and his mom say that Trevor’s life started to turn around after his case was assigned to Jessica Jelks, a Centinela case worker, in April 2023.

“Jessica took Trevor’s story and she put love, tender care on it,” says Thompson. “She dealt with Trevor in ways that even I didn’t know how to deal with. I remember sometimes he would blow up at home… and I would be like I don’t want to call the police on my son, I don’t want him to be arrested. I know he’s going through a lot with losing his dad, I know he’s going through a lot with being home schooled and stereotyped in this world.”

“Jessica would pull for me and give me positive advice so I would stay on track,” Trevor says. “She would tell me what I needed to hear. And it would make me want to work even more to get where I needed to go. I was almost there, but she gave me that little push I needed to get me where I needed to go.”

Before entering the diversion program, says Trevor, “I would go outside and all my friends at the time, who weren’t really my friends, all they would talk about is negative stuff.”

After joining the diversion program, Trevor decided it was time for a change. “I was just like, ‘I’m done with this. I’m just trying to be positive,’” he says. Trevor says he woke up one day and told himself: “‘Man, I just got to get this done.’ I stopped talking to the negative people and started to focus on positive stuff.”

“He started going to class,” his mom recalls. “He surprised me.”

“Me and Jessica were able to tag-team to get him where he needed to be at least thinking-wise,” says Thompson. “Now he did do all of the work. He did turn in all of the papers. He did show up to class. But it took me and Jessica to get him through that. We had an amazing success story.”

In March 2024, Trevor completed his online school program and earned his high school diploma.

Toward the end of a video interview two weeks after his graduation, Trevor stepped away from the camera to grab and show off his new diploma.

With a big grin, he declared: “I’m legit bro!”

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