Evanston’s Human Services Committee voted unanimously Monday to send a package of reforms designed to shift juvenile cases from circuit court to the city’s administrative adjudication system and encourage restorative justice solutions to the full City Council.
The changes were developed over a nearly two-year period by the Alternatives to Arrest Committee, a panel that included three members of the five-member Human Serices Committee along with local attorneys and a minister.
Patrick Keenan-Devlin, an Alternatives to Arrest Committee member and executive director of the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, said the changes would also give adults in administrative hearings the option for community service “as opposed to a daunting fine that could be imposed.”
He said that for juveniles it “reimagines what we as a city should be doing when children violate our norms” and focuses on “how can we help you, and how can we repair what’s been done.”
He said city staff had “contributed unbelievable hours” to the process of developing the new rules. “The staff has been incredible,” he said, adding “I know this will be a model for the region, state and nation.”
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, who chaired the special committee, said, “Some folks just love to complain — to be outraged and complain.”
But members of the committee really stepped up, he said, and “went through lots of data to make careful changes to give us a product all can support.”