Circuit Court of Cook County launches educational pilot program: What Teens Should Know About the Criminal Justice System

Released On 11/29/2004

Chief Cook County Judge Timothy C. Evans announced the Circuit Court of Cook County has launched an educational pilot program to help teenagers understand the long term ramifications facing them if they commit a crime at the age of 17.

The program, What Teens Should Know About the Criminal Justice System, was conceived by Second Municipal District Presiding Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer in collaboration with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The pilot program is being offered free of charge to high schools in Cook County’s northern suburbs with the intention to eventually expand it county-wide.

"Unfortunately, most teenagers harbor many myths and misconceptions about the criminal justice system, and are completely unaware of the harsh realities they can encounter once they are swept up in it," said Chief Judge Evans. "This program has been designed by Judge Sutker-Dermer as a dynamic way to inform teens about those ramifications before they turn 17, the age they become legal adults in the court system," explained Chief Judge Evans.

The pilot program was introduced at Skokie’s Niles North High School in early November as a special presentation of the sophomore health curriculum. Topics covered included current changes in the law which stiffened the consequences for first time offenders. For example, persons convicted of felonies as teens face becoming ineligible to attend out of state colleges or to receive loans, losing their driver’s license, and being barred from entering the legal and banking professions.

Teens also received information on undercover investigations and arrests, as well as on the long term medical effects of illegal drug use.

Program speakers included Judge Sutker-Dermer, Judge William T. O’Brien of the Second Municipal District, Mark Kammerer, Director of Treatment Programs in the Narcotics Prosecution Bureau of the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, and Assistant State’s Attorney Peggy Chiampas, Supervisor fo the Narcotics Grand Jury Unit, as well as speakers from law enforcement and health care.

Schools interested in arranging to have What Teens Should Know About the Criminal Justice System presented for their students should contact the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Skokie courthouse by calling 847.470.7200.




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