Peoria County


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Peoria County

Peoria County DMC continues to monitor juvenile justice data related to their identified target populations. These are youth charged with aggravated battery and youth detained on warrants for failure to appear for a court date or technical violations of probation. Through the implementation of community programs, as well as efforts to work with school and court officials to bring systemic change, a reduction in DMC has occurred.

A county-wide DMC assessment conducted in 2004 determined that substantial numbers of African-American youth admitted to detention were held as a result of aggravated battery charges, and that nearly half (47 percent) of aggravated battery charges stemmed from incidents at school. Looking closely at the circumstances of those aggravated battery charges, the DMC Project concluded that modifications to the county's risk assessment instrument and implementing a Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Program might lead to reductions to DMC. Teacher training in the use of Peace Keeping Circles began at one high school and one middle school in FY 2006.

Although the Circles training occurred in 2006, the foundation for this effort began in 2005 with planning and sub-committee meetings with Peoria Public Schools. From the time of the meeting with school officials in November 2005, there was a steady decline in aggravated battery admissions to the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center. The purpose of our meetings was to facilitate, rather than direct, discussions about police reports and data related to aggravated battery offenses. After reviewing the information, the School District agreed to enforce the correct implementation of the current discipline protocol that included several steps before involving the police. It appeared, through the police reports, that the protocol was not being followed and that law enforcement personnel were being introduced into the situation far too early, resulting in confrontation.

The DMC Coordinator co-facilitated the Circles training, which require an extensive time commitment on the part of both the teachers and the trainers. The duration of Circle training is 24 hours, as teachers meet for three days, eight hours each day. The teachers invested a combined total of 2,088 professional development hours toward the betterment of their students. Training 87 teachers required 144 total hours of training on the part of the DMC Coordinator. Peoria DMC believes the commitment on the part of the teachers is impressive and will be evident as they facilitate Circles at their schools.

Staff from five schools participated in the Circles training, which potentially allows for 1,166 students to be impacted by the supportive, healing benefits of Peacemaking Circles. The children who attend these five schools are from neighborhoods in Peoria with high rates of crime and poverty. Two of the five schools work exclusively with youth exhibiting negative or violent behavior, placing them at high risk for suspension and/or expulsion. In addition, these schools have a predominantly African-American population. A further reduction in the number of minority youth detained is anticipated, as the number of referrals between school and juvenile detention decrease. A survey covering January through May of 2009 was given to the teachers and students who participated in the training. The survey gauged participants' assessment of the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the training. At Manual High school, 68 percent of respondents claimed that the trainings helped to improve respect between teachers and students, 58 percent said that negative behaviors in class have reduced since the circles began, and 53 percent reported that relationships between teachers have improved.

Progress has steadily increased. Three additional schools have implemented Peace Circles: the Kiefer School, Manual 7/8 Grade Academy and the Knoxville Center for Success. At this time, a data tracking system is being developed to monitor the effectiveness of Circles. This is in addition to surveys, which will again this year be distributed at the end of the school year. Peer Jury was successfully implemented at Manual High School and also at Manual 7/8 Grade Academy as well as the Knoxville Center for Student Success. Efforts will be made to continually measure the effectiveness of Peer Jury in keeping youth from going deeper into the criminal justice system. Although Peoria has just begun this evaluation process, to date, none of the youth seen in Peer Jury have penetrated deeper into the juvenile justice system of Peoria County.

Peer Jury was successful at Manual High School and will this school year be implemented in the Manual 7/8 Grade Academy as well as the Knoxville Center for Student Success. The site will continue to monitor the effectiveness of Peer Jury in keeping youth from going deeper into the criminal justice system. Although the evaluation process has only recently begun, to date none of the youth seen in Peer Jury have penetrated deeper into the juvenile justice system of Peoria County.

Domestic Violence Proposal

Since the beginning of the year, Steven Kossman and Jeff Gress, co-chairs of Peoria's Juvenile Justice Council, and the Detention Superintendent have worked to develop an alternative to secure detention for juveniles charged with Domestic Battery. Currently, juveniles charged with Domestic Battery are automatically detained per our detention screening instrument. This provision was incorporated in the instrument as previously there was no other alternative placement available other than secure detention.

Through CCBYS (Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services), juveniles charged with Domestic Battery can be referred to this program for investigation into alternative placement. Referral to this program would be limited only to those juveniles charged with Domestic Battery in which no serious injury or medical treatment was necessary for the victim. A protocol for such a situation was developed and shared with our Juvenile Division State's Attorney for review. Unfortunately, to date there has been no further movement on the proposal, as it has stalled with the State's Attorney's Office.

The Peace Project

In this final year of its current DMC grant from the IJJC, Peoria County's goal is to switch from a 'project' to 'programs.' This is an opportunity to share this funding with the community so that reduction can occur towards the over-representation of minority youth involved in the juvenile justice system. DMC dollars will be used to leverage programs to ensure that our efforts to reduce DMC continue once Commission funding ends.

These seed dollars are an investment in the lives of the youth in our community and will support programs geared toward creating peace, reducing crime and preventing youth involvement with the juvenile justice system.

Because funding is not sufficient to support a DMC Coordinator position, the Peace Project is a way to incorporate community collaboration and capacity building into our efforts to reduce disproportionality.

The goal is to leverage new and innovative programs/activities by providing seed funding. Ideally, these programs and/or activities will be sustainable through other means once Commission funding ends.

Juvenile Justice Council

  • $22,500 available for mini-grant distribution
  • Will review Peace Project and make recommendations for change/improvements
  • Develop Peace Project Ad-hoc committee (Ad-hoc committee members cannot apply)
  • Committee will finalize application process (application, timelines, distribution)
  • Committee will define reporting process for awardees
  • Committee will review applications and select awardees

The Peace Project will seed the development of new programs and or activities. These seed dollars will not replace funding to support existing programs, but could be used for program expansion to support programs/activities that would otherwise not exist without this funding opportunity.

Four programs were selected to receive funding. The state DMC Coordinator served on a review committee charged with reviewing and selecting the program applications. Each program will submit a quarterly report beginning January 15, 2010. All reports will be shared with the IJJC and the Peoria County Juvenile Justice Council. Additionally, each program will appear before the Council to discuss the progress of their program.

Lawndale

The Lawndale DMC Advisory Board continues to provide information to the IJJC on a quarterly basis. The reports describe detention strategies and community initiatives, and illustrate the progress made in FY2009.

The Lawndale Community is located on the west side of Chicago and is sometimes referred to as North Lawndale and South Lawndale. The 2000 Census reports the following data for the North Lawndale Community: total population, 41,768; Caucasian, not Hispanic, 383; African-American, 39,363; Hispanic, 1,896; unemployed, 16 years of age and over, 3,304; and families with incomes below poverty, 3,958. The data for South Lawndale are as follows: total population, 91,071; Caucasian, not Hispanic, 3,210; African-American, 12,097; Hispanic, 75,613; unemployed 16 years of age and over, 3,626; families with incomes below poverty, 3,905. Although the exact number of youth between the ages of 10 through 16 years in the Lawndale Community is unknown to the site at this time, the DMC Coordinator is currently working with the Illinois Department of Human Services to obtain this information as it is anticipated to be a significant number. There are more African-American youth in this community than any other race.

The Lawndale DMC site was launched in 2002. At its inception, a committee was formed to select a program coordinator, to lay the groundwork for the Advisory Board, and to define Lawndale's geographic boundaries. After conducting several interviews, a Coordinator was selected and then trained by the Burns Institute (BI). Members for the Advisory Board were selected based on the diversity suggested by the BI model. The members included community-based agency representatives, Chicago Police Department representatives, data analysts, Cook County Juvenile Probation Department personnel, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney representatives, and Cook County Juvenile Court Judiciary. Through the collaborative process, it was agreed that community boundaries would be determined by three ZIP codes - 60608, 60623, and 60624 -- all within the boundaries of the 10th Municipal Police District. These ZIP codes became the focal point for collecting arrest and detention data.

The Lawndale DMC has focused on 15- and 16-year-old African-American males brought in on juvenile arrest warrants as its target population. Attention has also been given to the total number of youth detained in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, particularly those youth who hail from the Lawndale area. Through dedicated efforts made by the Lawndale DMC, reductions have been seen in both of these areas.

In the third year, the Governance Board, based on community input, implemented community initiatives designed to provide employment skills, improve the relationship between teen fathers, their children, and girlfriends, develop leadership skills in teens, and engage Lawndale parents in meaningful forums. These programs continue to operate with community involvement.

Lawndale Youth Community Action Network (LYCAN) serves as a youth leadership/community organizing committee. This group meets bi-monthly to identify, discuss, and plan strategies to address local community issues related to youth involvement with Juvenile Justice. The youth develop strategies to improve community relationships between residents, local police department, and juvenile court personnel. This committee is comprised of approximately 30 community (non-system involved) and court-involved minors.

The Bridges-to-Manhood fatherhood program serves youth from the Lawndale community. This curriculum-based program provides service to court wards identified as fathers or fathers-to-be. During 2009 approximately 50 youth participated in the program.

Lawndale has also remained active in reducing recidivism through prevention programs. In the summer of 2009, over 30 system-involved youth participated in a tutorial program through Sylvan Learning Centers. Each of the youth received tutorial services across various academic disciplines. Follow-up with each youth's probation officer have shown that the youth have demonstrated improved academic performance for the 2009-2010 school year.


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