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Government

Downers Grove Village Council to weigh merits of peer jury program

Township officials expected to mull program's future at Feb. 15 meeting

A plan calling for the village of Downers Grove to reinstate the peer jury program previously run by Downers Grove Township is on the table.
A plan calling for the village of Downers Grove to reinstate the peer jury program previously run by Downers Grove Township is on the table.

DOWNERS GROVE – A plan calling for the village of Downers Grove to reinstate the peer jury program previously run by Downers Grove Township is on the table.

The Downers Grove Village Council is expected to discuss the idea at its Feb. 13 meeting.

The idea was brought forward by commissioner Greg Hose, who does not expect any action by the board at the meeting.

"I anticipate it coming back up at the [Village Council meeting] on Tuesday, Feb. 20," Hose said.

Commissioners Bob Barnett and Bill White also have indicated support for the program.

The township program was canceled in July 2017 because of a lack of state funds. A group of supporters offered a plan that called for a privately funded peer jury program operated under the auspices of the township.

The proposal was abandoned because the group believed it did not have the support of township Supervisor Mark Thoman, who expressed reservations about the long-term funding and liability for such a program.

Hose favors partnering with other villages that participated in the township program. He said the village likely would follow the template the township designed for the program.

Meanwhile, the township's Board of Trustees is expected to discuss the possibility of resurrecting the program at its Feb. 15 meeting.

Township trustees Dave Van Der Laan and Abby Ferguson said at the Dec. 19, 2017, township board meeting that they would reach out during January to police chiefs, school officials, representatives from towns that run successful peer juries and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The trustees hoped to complete their discussions by the end of January, at which point they planned to meet with members of the group that supports continuation of the program, Ferguson had said.

Efforts to reach Ferguson and Van Der Laan were unsuccessful.

Hose, who has discussed the program's future with Thoman, said it's unlikely the township will resume the program.

"I do not expect they'll be taking action to reinstate the program," Hose said.

A group of peer jury supporters is encouraged by the village's consideration of the program. However, they are critical of the township's latest efforts to resume the program.

"The [township] subcommittee is only committing to a discussion at the Feb. 15 meeting," said Fanny Moy, a Westmont resident and peer jury supporter.

Meanwhile, Moy said, about 200 peer jurors have lost the opportunity to participate in the program since it was discontinued.

"An average of 50 township teen offenders have lost the opportunity to plead guilty and have their case heard by their peers," Moy said.

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