Programs: Stephenson County Juvenile Restorative Justice Conferencing
Year started: 2006
Neutrals: Probation Officer
Eligibility: First-time juvenile offenders and those with minor offenses
Pro bono services available?: no
The Stephenson County Restorative Justice Program began operating in the beginning of 2006, with conferencing beginning in May. Under the guidance of Tom Schwamberger, the Juvenile Probation Office has initiated a victim-offender reconciliation process that allows first-time offenders and those with minor offenses a chance to avoid going to court and instead reconcile the issues via a restorative process facilitated by a third-party neutral. Common case types covered are battery, theft, and criminal damages.
Nikki Sands is currently the sole Restorative Justice Coordinator, in addition to her primary duties as a Juvenile Probation Officer. In coordination with the Assistant State's Attorney, the office contacts victims to discuss whether they would like to proceed with the process. Offenders are then offered the chance to come in and resolve the dispute in a mediation-styled conference guided by Ms. Sands. Once both parties agree, a date is set to conference.
On the date of the meeting, the moderator will set an agenda for the conference. In the conference itself, Ms. Sands facilitates dialogue between the victim and offender, and questions are directed to provide an outcome that works to provide restitution to the victim and has the offender take account for their actions. Most meetings last between 30 minutes to one hour.
The program currently requires no supplementary funding, but the program is in the process of expanding. As more cases are sent for conference, funds will be needed to train volunteer moderators.
For more information about this program, contact:
Restorative Justice Coordinator
15 N. Galena Ave.
Freeport, IL 61032
phone: (815) 235-8338
fax: (815) 235-7068