Balance & Restorative Justice Programs

Consistent with the legislative changes outlined in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1998, the Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department developed a mission statement and programming consistent with the principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice.  The principles of BARJ include:

  1. Promote Public Safety:  Every individual has a right to live in a safe and secure community.  A balanced approach must attempt to restore the victim’s and community’s safety and respond to the offender in meaningful ways that address delinquent behavior.
  2. Accountability:  When a juvenile commits a crime, he or she becomes obligated to the victim and affected community.  The youth should learn the impact of his or her crime on the victim/community and be held responsible for repairing the harm.
  3. Competency Development: Society has an investment in the positive development of youth.  Juveniles who come into the juvenile justice system should have the opportunity to learn skills to help them become more responsible and productive members of the community.

Diversion Compliance

Youth referred to court for less serious and non-violent offenses can be diverted by the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Probation Screening Department to one of a number of programs that emphasize BARJ principles. These programs provide opportunities for victims, offenders, parents, community members and volunteers to talk about the incident, discuss how it affected everyone involved and determine how to repair the harm.  Examples of these programs include victim-offender conferencing (Neighborhood Restorative Justice Institute), Community Panels for Youth (Community Justice for Youth Institute) and mediation services (Center for Conflict Resolution).


The mission of the JUMPSTART Program is to provide out-of-school delinquent minors with a twenty week, success-readiness experience that will prepare them educationally, emotionally and psychologically for a successful return to full time learning.  The program seeks to refocus and redirect those minors who demonstrate neither the skills nor the motivation to continue their education on their skills.

JUMPSTART is open to all delinquent minors throughout Cook County who are
(1) between the ages of 16 and 18, (2) not enrolled in school and unemployed, and (3) uncooperative with other forms of intervention.  The program is designed for those clients who have demonstrated little capacity to succeed elsewhere.  JUMPSTART will accept virtually any applicant as long as he or she has completed the 8th grade.

JUMPSTART expanded in 2011 to include GED testing.

Violence Intervention/Prevention Program

This program consists of single presentation workshops for minors charged with delinquent acts who need to learn healthy responses to violence and aggression. Minors are referred to the program by probation officers, assistant state's attorneys or assistant public defenders. A judge also may order a minor to take the workshop. Conducted by probation officers, the program features a 30-minute video, Justice is Done, that was created by young victims of violence. The video presentation is followed by a discussion of positive alternatives to anger and violence and the consequences of returning to the court system.  Minors' families are encouraged to accompany them to the workshop.

Community Service

Community service is work performed by juvenile offenders who are required, as part of a supervision or probation order, to repay their community by performing work tasks that benefit the community and teach positive skills to the offender.  Just as neighborhoods and communities can be harmed by delinquent activities, they can partially be restored by meaningful service performed by the offender.  By ordering community service, judges provide a consequence for harmful behaviors while giving young offenders the opportunity to learn productive skills and interact with positive role models. 

The Probation Department’s Community Service Unit assigns and monitors minors ordered to complete community service.  Community service worksites can include not-for-profit organizations such as local agencies, churches, schools, community groups, parks and police stations. 

Retail Theft School

This program features a partnership between the Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department, the State’s Attorney’s office, and private sector loss prevention officers.  The goal is to educate juvenile offenders arrested for retail theft on the effect of their behavior on the victim, the community, and themselves.  

Project Chance

Project Chance is a diversion program for arrests not involving retail theft. Information is provided to both parent and youth from a variety of resources including the Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department, State’s Attorney’s Office, police, community agencies, and victims. Sessions close with a contract for the youth to complete agreed upon tasks by a due date.

Community Impact Panels

Juvenile Probation provides this program for youth court wide. This program provides victims the opportunity to speak about their experiences and educate young offenders about the harmful consequences of their behavior. Minors will be referred by Judges as they deem this to be an appropriate intervention.

Copyright 2017 by Circuit Court of Cook County