Dr. Arnold Binder, professor emeritus of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), founder of the school’s social ecology program, and founder of what would become Waymakers, passed away on October 2nd.
In 1972, Dr. Binder worked with local law enforcement partners and student interns to establish a diversion and intervention project providing counseling, housing and other services for at-risk youth and their families. That led to his founding of Youth Service Programs (later known as Community Service Programs and now Waymakers).
In its first year of operations, the fledgling non-profit tackled juvenile delinquency rates and high recidivism rates, succeeding in dropping the rate of repeat offenders by 33 percent. At that time, grant funding for the agency totaled $35,000, and the work carried out by interns who sat in the “bullpens” of the Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa Police Departments.
The collaborative efforts of academic researchers and law enforcement officers led to an understanding that they could stem delinquency by increasing communications between parents and youths. Under Dr. Binder’s direction, the non-profit recognized the need for adolescents to have more employment opportunities to build their self-esteem and better communication with their families and focused on accomplishing those goals.
For nearly 50 years, Orange County has benefitted from the legacy of Dr. Binder’s work. Today Waymakers builds safer communities by helping individuals experiencing conflict and crisis make their way to a place of strength and stability. Juvenile Diversion is still a key component of the work of Waymakers, which also now includes a focus on sheltering children and transitional age youth, supporting crime victims, counseling youth and their families, resolving conflicts, and educating communities.
Ronnetta Johnson, Waymakers CEO, stated, “As I reflect on the legacy of Dr. Binder, I am overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been positively impacted through the foundation laid by Dr. Binder’s founding of an organization that was on the cutting edge of services for youth at the time. Those impacted not only include the more than 100,000 individuals impacted by Waymakers each year but the staff and volunteers who have had the honor of being associated with our work. I know that it has made an incalculable difference in my life. Dr. Binder left a beautiful legacy, of which we are only a very small part.”
The following message is from the family of Dr. Binder.
“We are heartbroken to share that on October 2, Arnold Binder passed away. Arnold was the original founder of the Youth Service Program (later Community Service Program and now Waymakers), an organization originally founded to provide diversion counseling and other support for at-risk youth. We are so proud that his vision and work laid the foundation for what Waymakers is today, serving so many families in the Orange County area. He was also a professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine where he founded the School of Social Ecology. He wrote numerous articles and co-authored four books focused on research methods, police use of deadly force and on juvenile delinquency.
In the days after his death, we have been reflecting both on our favorite memories, and on his impact on those around him. He loved traveling, skiing, wine, family meals and chocolate ice cream. We hope to honor his legacy by serving others, both in our community and around the world. We all miss him beyond words. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Virginia. And his children Andrea, Jeff and Jennifer and his grandchildren Julia, Damien, Clare and Elliott.”
The family has stated that donations in Dr. Binder’s honor may be made to Waymakers or Carry the Future.