Chief Wayne Brooks
ZION POLICE DEPARTMENT
An Accredited Agency
2101 Salem Blvd.
Zion, Illinois 60099
Phone (847) 746-4103 FAX (847) 746-4088
April 17, 2007
On 11-17-06 Lt. Kirk Henderson of the Zion Police Department attended the steering committee meeting at Midwestern Regional Medical Center of the Coalition for Healthy Communities and made a presentation introducing a new program that he is starting to benefit teens in the Zion community.
The Zion Police Department, in partnership with the Northern Illinois Council of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (NICASA), has developed a Teen Court Program for first-time juvenile misdemeanor offenders in Zion. Teen Court is a volunteer program for juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 18 and serves as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system. The purpose of the program is to have young offenders accept responsibility for their actions and take steps to correct the harm they have done to others and/or the community. Successful participation in Teen Court allows an offender to keep the offense off of their record.
Under Teen Court a juvenile offender pleads guilty and agrees to have the case heard by a jury of their peers. The Teen Jury is made up of local high school age volunteers. These volunteers assume the roles of jurors, attorneys and bailiff during the Teen Court proceedings. The case is presented to the jury, the jury questions the juvenile offender, deliberates the case and issues a sentence. The sentence usually consists of a combination of community service, written essays, workshops, letters of apology and decision-making classes.
The Zion Police Department’s goal is to use this program as another tool of many already in use to interact with troubled youth and their peers at an early stage to help steer them in a more positive direction, and in the big picture generally help to improve the quality of life in Zion. Not only will the youth offenders be given a positive chance to change direction, but their teen peers who will act as jurors will also be given an opportunity to positively impact their community.