Plans being made to bring teen court to Monroe/Randolph Counties

Last Friday, an event was held at the Red Bud Southwestern Illinois College Campus to provide information and strategic planning to implement a “restorative justice and teen court” for Randolph and Monroe Counties.

The event was hosted by the Regional Office of Education for Monroe and Randolph Counties, and featured a presentation by retired Judge Annette Eckert, who helped in implementation of this program in St. Clair County.

The teen court program gives youth an alternative option, as they are held accountable though a sentence imposed by their peers. Its simple goal is to reduce recidivism and get troubled youth back onto the right track using positive peer influence.

In the teen court program, if a youth is charged with a non-violent misdemeanor, and has no criminal background, they are offered the opportunity by the state’s attorney’s office. Common crimes that are applicable include shoplifting, property destruction and obstruction of justice.

Student representatives from each participating high school serve as the jurors, after having been trained in restorative justice practices and taking an oath of confidentiality.

For more, please see this week’s print edition.