Peer Jury Program

The Peer Jury Program operates under the auspices of the local police department which is designed to provide a meaningful and remedial method of dealing with selected juvenile (17 year old or younger) offenders without referral to the Cook County Juvenile Court system. It does not determine guilt or innocence. A case is only sent to the peer jury for a hearing when (1) the offenders admits having committed the offense (2) the police officer handling the case determines that such a disposition is appropriate and (3) the offender and his/her parent(s) consent in writing to such a disposition and sign the Waiver of Liability and Confidentiality.

When these conditions are met, the offender and his/her parent(s) are scheduled for a hearing before the peer jury panel at the police station at a definite date and time. At the hearing, a juvenile detective summarizes the facts of the case. The offender is then questioned by the members of the panel. The offender and his/her parent(s) then withdraw from the room while the entire peer jury deliberates and fixes an appropriate punishment. The sentence usually includes some form of individual community service.

The offender and his/her parent(s) are then recalled and informed of the sentence. The offender is then given a written copy of the sentence and a return date is assigned. The offender is expected to return on the assigned date and show proof that he/she completed the requirements.

At the discharge hearing the offender and his/her parent(s) appear again. The panel reviews the offender’s documents and performance review form. The panel will ask the offender questions about his/her experience while performing the sentence. If satisfactory, the offender is discharged. If the performance is incomplete or unsatisfactory, the discharge hearing may be continued or the offender’s case will be forwarded to the Cook County Juvenile Court system.

Peer Jury Mission
The purpose of the peer jury is not to determine the offender’s guilt or innocence. The offender must admit guilt before he/she is allowed to appear before the peer jury. The peer jury’s purpose is to provide a means for the young offender to account for his/her behavior to a group of his/her peers. Peer jurors should attempt to determine why the offender did what he/she did and how the offender can be helped to see that he/she did wrong.

In order to accomplish the above mission, peer jurors must have a good understanding of the facts of the case. To achieve this understanding, jurors may ask questions of the offender, his/her parents and the juvenile detective during the hearing of the case. Jurors should ask whatever questions they need to get a clear understanding of the facts. The following is a list of sample questions that a peer juror might ask during a case hearing.

Will any of my child’s friends appear before the Peer Jury as an offender?
Prior to each meeting, the jurors will be provided with the list of offenders appearing before them. If a peer juror knows one or all of the offenders they will be removed from sitting on the Peer Jury Panel of eight. Members of the peer jury understand their responsibility to maintain confidentiality when it comes to who appears before them.

What kinds of sentences are imposed?
Typically, the sentence involves the performance of a certain number of community service hours at an agency such as a hospital, nursing home, etc. All sentences are performed as individuals and not as part of a group. Sentences may also include an apology letter to victim or hours spent sitting in on bond hearings at the Rolling Meadows Court House.

Will anyone outside the police department and the peer jury group know my child is serving a sentence?
Except for the supervision at the community service site, absolutely not! The peer jury proceedings and records are confidential. A suspected violation of confidentiality results in the dismissal from the program. No list of offenders appearing before the peer jury is ever published and the press is not permitted to report on individual cases.

How are peer jury personnel selected?
The appointing authority for all peer jury personnel is the detective assigned to run the program. Peer jurors are recruited through advertisement or by word of mouth. Peer jurors are individuals of good standing in the community, have good moral fiber, high school students and no negative contacts with police departments. Those interested in participation, must fill out an application and submit it to the detective assigned to the program. Once the application has been reviewed, the individual will be contacted by letter if they have been accepted into the program.

What is the attitude toward offenders?
All offenders appearing before the peer jury are treated with dignity and respect. Demeaning and belittling attitudes or comments will not be tolerated. The objective of the program is to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability in the offender.

Who is present during the peer jury session?
The sessions are made up of a panel of 6- 8 peer jurors/high school students who will address the offender directly. The rest of the peer jury members, sit quietly listening to the case being presented. The detective in charge of the program is present and will read the facts of the case based on the police report filed. The parent(s) of the offender are also present in the room.

What are the program’s objectives?
This program is to help the child and family deal with a problem situation in a constructive and positive manner.

Peer Teen Jury
Thank you for your interest in the Arlington Heights Peer Jury Program. Before you make your decision to apply you need to know what is expected from our members.

Our Peer Jury sessions are held the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. The sessions start in September and go through to the first Wednesday in June. We meet at the Village of Arlington Heights Village Hall, on the third floor and our sessions last between 60-90 minutes. We hear up to three new cases and three returning cases at each meeting. Members are expected to maintain the confidentiality of each case that comes before the jury.

Your commitment to the program is very important. Out of 10 meetings we have scheduled, during the school year, you are allowed only 3 absences. I understand that unexpected events occur and you might have to miss more than 3 meetings. It is each member’s responsibility to contact me and let me know.

If you are prepared to make this commitment and join our peer jury, please read the packet and fill out the Juror Application Form and Parent Consent Letter. Return the two forms to me at the Arlington Heights Police Department. Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you will notify by letter. I do not take on new members in the middle of a school year. If you are applying during the school year, you will be notified prior to the beginning of the next school year.

Detective Pete Hamrick
Peer Jury Coordinator/Juvenile Investigations
Arlington Heights Police Department
200 E. Sigwalt Street Arlington Heights, IL 60005