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Home / Departments / Services / Unleashing Potential

Unleashing Potential

Judge Jessica D'Varga, Presiding Judge

The Unleashing Potential program, known for short as "UP" seeks to increase the assets of young adults to help them transform their lives and provides justice-involved young adults with a meaningful path to reducing and/or eliminating their criminal record. 

UP is an option for those young adults who have come into contact with the justice system and are at risk for continued criminal behavior due to lack of resources and a support system.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Roger Williamson, UP Team Probation Officer
 (614) 645-3791
 [email protected]

Christine Cearfoss,
Bailiff to Judge Jessica D'Varga
 (614) 645-8683
 [email protected]

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The program is an option for those young adults who have come into contact with the justice system and are at risk for continued criminal behavior due to lack of resources and a support system. The type of support and opportunities that emerging adults need to thrive, and that UP would provide, include: 

  • Health and behavioral health services/Trauma-informed care
  • ​Parenting services and support
  • Aid in successfully navigating public assistance programs
  • Driver’s licensing and transportation assistance
  • Education and workforce development utilizing A.M.P - Achieve More & Prosper  
  • Safe, stable and affordable housing
  • Family and community support

Eligibility


UP is intended for justice-involved individuals age 18-25 years, with a moderate-high risk of recidivism and high level of criminogenic needs. Eligibility will be based on the nature and type of charges filed, as well as that defendant’s prior criminal history. Charges generally must be non-violent in nature, but cases will be considered on a case by case basis.

The Court’s specialty dockets below would take precedence over UP should an individual qualify for both programs.

PROCESS

 REFERRAL:
  • Misdemeanor Cases: Defense attorneys, the Columbus City Prosecutor’s office, and judges will review case files as they are assigned and make recommendations to the UP judge and staff. For probation violation cases, assigned probation officers will refer appropriate candidates to the program.
  • Felony Cases: The Franklin County Prosecutor’s office will review and refer eligible cases to UP at arraignment, prior to indictment.
  LEGAL ELIGIBILITY AND ASSESSMENT:
  • Upon referral, the attorneys and presiding judge will determine whether entrance into the program will create an agreeable resolution. If so, the defendant will be assessed by a case manager and the case manager will make a recommendation on whether the defendant is suitable for UP.
  • Upon acceptance, the defendant will sign a participant agreement and create an action plan, which can include health and public assistance appointments, job readiness, housing, educational support, and parenting/family counseling.
 PARTICIPATION:
  • UP participation is usually one year or longer, depending on the individual’s need and progress.
 GRADUATION:
  • To graduate successfully, participants must demonstrate adherence to their action plans.
  • Upon graduation, the case will be resolved pursuant to the negotiated agreement (either reduction of the charge or dismissal of the charge) between the prosecuting attorney, defense attorney and the Court.