Ten youthful lawbreakers will spend Wednesday and Thursday repainting a Salt Lake public gymnasium as part of what juvenile court officials say is an extremely successful restitution program.

The program allows juvenile offenders with few resources to pay off court-ordered restitution for their crimes by participating in public works projects at minimum wage, said John McNamara, juvenile court administrator."The value of the work restitution program is threefold," McNamara said. "First, it enables juveniles to take responsibility for their actions; second, it enables victims to receive compensation for their loss; and third, public agencies receive a service in the form of labor."

Last year more than 1,200 juveniles participated, completing 24,164 hours of community service in Ogden, Salt Lake, Price and St. George. Statewide, more than 120,000 hours of service was rendered by delinquents, McNamara said.

The work ranged from park beautification and school janitorial services to graffiti cleanup.

The restitution program was created by the Legislature in 1970. That year $24,000 was collected in restitution by the juvenile court, compared with $441,538 in 1987.

"Such growth in restitution collections indicates the growing tendency of the court to consider the victim and include restitution as part of the youth's rehabilitation," McNamara said.

Community reaction to the program has been "overwhelmingly positive," he said, and court officials plan to expand it to other communities.