It's one thing for a youth to get in trouble.
It's quite another for them to become an habitual part of the justice system through crime after crime.
The Lycoming County Youth Commission's program, updated for county judges, attorneys, law enforcement and volunteers last week, seeks to keep youths who get in trouble from sliding into a lifetime of brushes with law enforcement.
The program makes practical sense on so many levels and is executed so well locally that it stands as a model for what can be done to save youths.
Under the program, youths who commit misdemeanors or summary offenses are referred to the program from arresting police departments, schools, district judges, nonprofit service agencies and the court.
That's a lot of input from the places that matter.
"If properly and promptly handled, most first-time juvenile offenders will learn from their mistakes and not become involved in more serious or repeated offenses," the commission's planning document states.
The program helps troubled kids out of possible jail time, keeping them from the possibility of being corrupted by criminals with longer history and instead gets them into a more hands-on rehabilitation opportunity.