Probation Volunteers

The Volunteers-in-Probation Program

In 1967 Look magazine designated Royal Oak as one of 7 cities in the United States to be called an All-American City. The reason for this singular honor was the work of a young Judge (Keith Leenhouts), the 44th District Court, and the court's Probation Department.

Like many Judges, Keith Leenhouts was discouraged by what was happening in the system; a defendant is brought in, tried, convicted, pays his/her fine and/or goes to jail, is put on probation, and then proceeds to go out and commit another crime within 3 years.

In 1960 Judge Leenhouts decided to begin a Volunteers-in-Probation program utilizing hundreds of community volunteers (he called them sponsors) to meet one-on-one with probationers for about 12 hours each month. Judge Leenhouts described this technique, one where volunteers introduce their inspirational personality into the life of the offender, to befriend him/her, listen to him/her, and guide him/her through his/her critical first brush with the law.

The results were astounding. The Royal Oak Court utilizing the volunteers-in-probation program, over a 5 year period, had only 14.9% repeat offenders while a comparable court of our size, not using this program, had 48.9% repeaters.

Because of this success, the Royal Oak Court gained National attention and eventually, in 1967, was given the title, All-American City.

Today, thousands of courts throughout the United States are using this program. When Judge Leenhouts retired from the Royal Oak Court, he became National Director of the Volunteers-in-Probation program and to this day, is still active and speaking throughout the country on the
merits of volunteers.

Citizens like yourself may volunteer to help in this program at the court by simply calling the 44th District Court Probation Director Gerald Tarchala at (248) 246-3670. By doing this, you will continue to make Royal Oak a better and safe place to live.

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