The peer jury program offers a confidential, meaningful, and remedial approach to processing juvenile offenders under the age of 17 without going through the juvenile court system. To qualify for the peer jury process, a case must meet the following criteria:
- Offender admits to committing the offense
- Reporting officer determines peer jury is an appropriate case disposition
- Offender, parent or guardian consents, in writing, to such disposition
The juvenile offender, parent or guardian will be scheduled for a hearing before the peer jury panel. The panel consists of six juveniles and an adult moderator. At the hearing, the offender is sworn in and expected to provide a synopsis of the events leading to the arrest. To boost their understanding of the case, panel members may ask questions. The offender, parent or guardian will be directed to another area while the panel deliberates to determine the appropriate retribution.
The retribution assigned typically includes some form of individualized community service that is monitored by the peer jury coordinator, who is available to assist the offender. Once the retribution is completed, a report on the offender’s performance is forwarded to the peer jury coordinator.
The offender, parents or guardian need to be present at the hearing. The offender will be asked to convey his/her experiences during the retribution process. If the offender’s performance and discussion is satisfactory, the offender is discharged, with no further record of the offense or retribution. Should the performance be incomplete or unsatisfactory, the discharge hearing may be continued or the offender remanded to the juvenile officer for the appropriate court proceedings.
How to Serve on the Peer Jury
Community involvement is critical to the success of this youth program. To serve on the panel one must meet the following criteria:
- Attend middle or high school
- Live or attend school in Elgin or South Elgin
- Possess an interest in helping peers
- Be willing to work with police, fellow teens and the community
- Have an ability to commit to the program
For those interested in serving on the panel, complete an application (PDF) or contact Sally Guiney.
The Peer Juror
Peer jurors are expected to approach each case in a serious, confidential, and professional manner. Prior to serving on the panel, jurors are trained and spend time observing the process. Each peer juror is required to maintain confidentiality and attend meetings and hearings on a regular basis. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month, located in the city hall courtroom, at 6:30 p.m. If there is a conflict of interest whereas the juror knows the offender or attends the same school, jurors remove themselves from the case. Should there be attempts of intimidation or influence, jurors are expected to report the incidents to the peer jury coordinator.