New Trier Township is a great place to raise a family, but, as happens in every community, our youngsters sometimes get into trouble and need help to deal with it.
One source of help for non-violent, first time law breakers is the Township's Peer Jury Program.
How Does The Program Work?
If a youth admits guilt and has their parent's permission, the offender may be referred to a jury of his/her peers. The jury listens to the charge (presented by a police officer), questions the offenders about the circumstances of the incident, and, as a group, agrees on an appropriate sentence - usually a number of hours of community service and sometimes a written paper or an apology.
Offenders are held accountable for their actions and must reflect on them. Their own peers group says to the offender, "We don't approve of what you did, but we believe you deserve a second chance. Do your part, fulfill your sentence, and you get that chance." The Township's Peer Jury Program was created in 1998 by a collaboration of the Township Board, police departments from Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Northfield, and Glencoe, public and private high schools in the area and social service agencies that serve the Township. The juvenile officer at the arresting police department decides whether a case is appropriate for the peer jury. Typical offenses are shoplifting, vandalism, fighting, trespassing, curfew violation, and possessing drug paraphernalia or marijuana.
A group of eight to ten trained high school students comprise a jury. The adult Peer Jury Coordinator monitors the offender's progress. When the sentence has been fulfilled, he informs the police and the Peer Jury. If the offender does not complete the sentence, the case may be referred back to the juvenile officer and may be taken to Cook County Juvenile Court.
Communities in suburban Cook County that have Peer Jury programs have found they cut down on repeat offenses. The recidivism rate can be less than five percent; the standard estimate for repeaters is over 50 percent. The cost of a Peer Jury Program is minimal while sending one offender to juvenile court is estimated to be $8,000. During the past 12 years of the program, offenders have successfully completed their assigned sentence over 96% of the time. For more information on Peer Jury, call 847-446-8203 or email the Community Services Administrator.
Would you like to serve as a Peer Juror? Read more