by Jodi S. Cohen and Jennifer Smith Richards: For Complete Post, Click Here…
The courthouse lobby echoed like a crowded school cafeteria. Teenagers in sweatshirts and sneakers gossiped and scrolled on their phones as they clutched the yellow tickets that police had issued them at school.
Abigail, a 16-year-old facing a $200 penalty for truancy, missed school again while she waited hours for a prosecutor to call her name. Sophia, a 14-year-old looking at $175 in fines and fees after school security caught her with a vape pen, sat on her mother’s lap.
A boy named Kameron, who had shoved his friend over a Lipton peach iced tea in the school cafeteria, had been cited for violating East Peoria’s municipal code forbidding “assault, battery, and affray.” He didn’t know what that phrase meant; he was 12 years old.
“He was wrong for what he did, but this is a bit extreme for the first time being in trouble.” Shannon Poole said as her son signed a plea agreement that came with $250 in fines and fees. They spent three hours at the courthouse as Kameron missed math, social studies and science.