Helping Youth In Our Township
New Trier Township is a great place to raise a family, but, as happens in every community, our youth sometimes get into trouble and need help coping with it. One source of help for non-violent, first time law breakers is the Township's Peer Jury Program.
How The Program Works
If a youth admits guilt and obtains a parent's permission, the offender may be referred to face 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 peer 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:
- Police Departments From Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Northfield, and Glencoe
- Public and Private High Schools in the Area
- Social Service Agencies That Serve the Township
- Township Board
The juvenile officer at the arresting police department decides whether a case is appropriate for the peer jury. Typical offenses are:
- Curfew Violation
- 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 5%; the standard estimate for repeaters is over 50%. The cost of a Peer Jury Program is minimal while sending one offender to juvenile court is estimated to be $8,000. During Peer Jury's 20-year history, offenders have successfully completed their assigned sentence over 96% of the time.
For more information on Peer Jury, email Community Services Administrator Brian Leverenz or call 847-446-8203. Read more about becoming a peer juror.