...Resolutions are built by consensus, said Lori Brown, coordinator of the Children's Home Models for Change Initiative. "It doesn't mean everybody has to love the outcome, it does mean everybody has to live with the outcome and agree not to sabotage it."

Wetzel, of the Police Department's juvenile division, has referred about five young offenders for community peace conferences, rather than the juvenile court system, since June. The coalition spearheading peace conference mediations expects the Police Department to refer a lot more cases once more volunteers are trained.

...Community peace conferences are part of an overall goal to reduce the number of juveniles - particularly minority juveniles - arrested, detained, on probation or incarcerated. They also represent a collaboration between the Police Department, the local Covenant with Black America, Peoria County's Juvenile Justice Council and the Children's Home, which is in the last year of a four-year $450,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change Initiative.

...Referrals for community peace conferences will be youths from 10 to 17 years old who have committed nonviolent low-level offenses including theft, retail theft, criminal damage to property, or simple assault. If the offender does not complete the agreed-upon solution, the case is referred back to the Police Department, which has the discretion to refer it to the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office.


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