July 19, 2017 at 3:30pm
Dane Lisser

Millikin University to manage new Macon County Teen Justice Program

Millikin University, in collaboration with the Macon County State's Attorney's Office and the Andreas Foundation, are pleased to announce that the new Macon County Teen Justice Program will be operated and managed by Millikin University starting August 1, 2017.

Formerly named Macon County Teen Court, the Teen Justice Program will move from a government-based setting to a university setting. The program will be an ongoing Performance Learning site for Millikin criminal justice students and support Millikin's new Criminal Justice major coming in Fall 2018.

Millikin Teen Justice Program

"The Macon County Teen Justice Program has been the most rewarding collaborative experience I've had at Millikin University," said Dr. Kenneth Laundra, associate professor of sociology at Millikin. "Working with community partners, students and faculty from across campus, we have established a novel and unique restorative justice program that benefits our students by providing them with Performance Learning, research and immersion experiences."

Millikin Provost Dr. Jeff Aper noted, "Having the innovative and effective Teen Justice Program come under Millikin's umbrella is a great example of public – private partnerships that benefit the larger community in very important ways. Millikin University will oversee the operation of the Teen Justice Program in close collaboration with the Macon County State's Attorney's Office and with support from the Andreas Foundation. This partnership reflects important directions for the continuing progress and growth of Decatur and Macon County."

Teen Justice is a voluntary diversion program for first-time offenders between the ages of nine and 17 who have been arrested for criminal offenses in Macon County. Youth participants are presented with opportunities to attend diversion hearings as an alternative to Juvenile Court. Rather than deciding guilt or innocence, the program volunteers create service plans for the participants to complete within a three-month period. If participants successfully complete the program, no charges are ever filed in the criminal courts.

Millikin Criminal Justice

"This transition to Millikin University has saved the program from ending," said Keyria Rodgers, who will be joining Millikin as a full-time professor of criminal justice in Fall 2017. "Many other Illinois Teen Courts lost their funding due to the budget impasse and the change of direction with the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. We would have been in the same boat without the partnership between county government, law enforcement, Millikin University and support from the Andreas Foundation."

Millikin President Dr. Patrick White noted, "This partnership with the Macon County State's Attorney's Office and the Andreas Foundation serves as one more example of Millikin University's key role as Decatur's University. This program will help improve the quality of life in Macon County and help Millikin students for future careers in many fields including law and social services. We are grateful for this distinctive partnership, and Millikin University will continue to serve our community and the larger world in innovative ways."

Over the last two years, Millikin University has successfully launched its Criminal Justice minor and certificate programs. The Teen Justice Program and Millikin University have collaborated on academic research projects, assessments, outcome evaluations, and have established an ongoing internship program for Millikin students pursuing the Sociology major or Criminal Justice minor. Millikin criminal justice students typically work with Teen Justice and various partners of the Macon County Juvenile Justice Council (MCJJC) to develop data reports and analyses.

Having the innovative and effective Teen Justice Program come under Millikin's umbrella is a great example of public – private partnerships that benefit the larger community in very important ways.

Additional learning opportunities, research projects and hand-on experiences will be available for criminal justice students with the Teen Justice Program positioned on Millikin's campus.  

"The community's involvement has been instrumental in this regard as well," said Dr. Laundra. "Because this program is also tied to the new Criminal Justice major that we are planning to launch, Millikin is now poised to function as the guiding force for future collaborations, for the benefit of our faculty and students who can observe and learn from actual restorative justice practices."

Millikin Teen Justice Program

Provost Aper added, "Teen Justice will offer extraordinary opportunities for students in Millikin's new Criminal Justice major to be involved in programming that reflects state of the art practices in working with juvenile offenders. That involvement deepens and extends Millikin's service to the larger community and offers students very substantive Performance Learning experiences that will allow them to experience the real challenges and benefits of doing the work they study and learn about in the classroom."

The Teen Justice Program relies on several key partners in the community to help make the program a success, including the Macon County Sheriff's Office, Decatur Police Department, Decatur Park District, local school districts and school district personnel, and the Regional Office of Education #39.

"Opportunities for growth and expansion are becoming more critical as the program develops over time," said Rodgers. "Millikin University is undoubtedly the best partner for future growth and expansion opportunities. Through this collaborative partnership, we have established internship practicums in the field, and have developed the popular Criminal Justice minor, which is the largest minor program on Millikin's campus with 50 minors to date. Millikin University is helping to provide a viable space for Teen Justice positions and its operations. The advantages for both Teen Justice and Millikin University are clear."     

Millikin Teen Justice Program

Millikin's Department of Sociology and Organizational Leadership is an interdisciplinary department with two majors that prepare students for a variety of professional careers in management, administration, non-profit, community or government agencies, social service, law and law enforcement, social science research, teaching, or graduate studies.

The minor in Criminal Justice at Millikin University is an interdisciplinary program intended to expose students to a wide range of criminology theory, concepts, and ideas in the related disciplines of political science, sociology, history, philosophy, and communications. The Criminal Justice certificate also makes it easier for both traditional and PACE students to complete some of the key criminal justice program courses, without completing the 21 hours required for the minor. Students who complete a certificate in Criminal Justice will be able to identify and understand the primary agents of the U.S. criminal justice system, and to critically evaluate criminal justice programs and policies. For more information about Millikin's Department of Sociology and Organizational Leadership, visit millikin.edu/soc-ol.   

For more information about the Macon County Teen Justice Program, contact Keyria Rodgers by e-mail at krodgers@millikin.edu

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