Millikin University gets new Teen Justice Program

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DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Millikin University is revamping the Macon County State's Attorney's Teen Court Program. 

The State's Attorney's Office was worried about funding for the program, so they decided to give it to the University.

Millikin has renamed the program the Teen Justice Program, which will be aimed at helping teens stay out of the justice system, and it will help those that are first-time offenders. Teen Justice is a voluntary diversion program for children between the ages of nine and 17.

Prior to Millikin taking the program, administrators could only help the children after they had been arrested. Now, administrators are able to help children before they are in the justice system. 

Keyria Rodgers, the Administrator for the old program and the new Millikin program, says she is excited for the future of the program. Rodgers has worked hard to redesign the program and she says, "We used the terms Teen Court, we also used jury, we used verdict as if a jury was passing judgment on somebody. And that's not restorative. So we don't use those terms. We have actually redesigned how this program works. And we understand that we're working with humans and not cases."

Rodgers is now an employee of Millikin and will also be a professor at the school as well as the Administrator for the Teen Justice Program. 

Millikin Provost Dr. Jeff Aper says, ""We saw this as an opportunity to provide our students with a lot of what we call performance learning opportunities. And performance learning is the idea that students are going to learn about a given discipline in the calssroom in more traditional ways, but they are also going to be able to go out and roll up their sleeves and get into the actual work of that discipline."

The Macon County State's Attorney's Office will still help with the program as well as the Andreas Foundation. The Foundation has helped finance the program since 2013.

Students will be able to get involved in the program and help with the service plans for children that use the program's services.

The Teen Justice Program starts August 1, 2017.

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