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What is the Masai Justice Project?

The Masai Justice Project (M.J.P.) reimagines juvenile justice and is a hybrid model of teen court that combines restorative practices, community justice, accountability and both victim- and offender- focused interventions.  

Benefits of M.J.P.

Successful completion of all the requirements and remedies as determined by the peer jury will result in the juvenile not facing the filing of delinquency charges in court (the equivalent of criminal charges in the context of the adult criminal justice system).  Also, the youth engages in restorative remedies to restore the community impacted by the offense and provide restitution to the victim(s).  


How MJP Works for the Juvenile Facing Charges

Referrals for participation in the MJP by a youth facing delinquency charges truancy or other concerns may be made by the Kankakee County State's Attorney's Juvenile Division, public defenders and/or private attorneys representing the juvenile, local police agencies, juvenile probation department, school and community-based organizations, and even the victim(s) of the juvenile's offense.  The juvenile must be willing to acknowledge responsibility for the offense and to participate in the MJP.  Each juvenile appears in court with his/her parent(s) or guardian.  A jury of their peers, teen volunteers unknown to the juvenile, then decide upon remedies.  Potential remedies may include college tours, restitution, community service in the community impacted by the offense, participation in restorative justice models facilitated by the State's Attorney's Director of Restorative Justice, counseling, engagement with a community-based organization, and other outcomes that may be relevant to the offense.  The juvenile is given 90 days within which to complete the sentence.  Failure to complete the sentence results in the case being sent back to the originating agency and may yet be brought into the judicial system

Why "Masai"?

Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising then to learn of the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors. "Kasserianingera," one would always say to another. It means: "And how are the children?" It is still the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai always place on their children's well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer: "All the children are well," meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place, that the Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions and responsibilities. "All the children are well" means that life is good. It means that the daily struggle of existence, even among a poor people, does not preclude proper caring for its young. This fable begs the question of the effect on our consciousness of our own children's welfare if, in our culture we took to greeting each other with this same daily question: "And how are the children?" One wonders if we heard that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, would it begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of or cared for in this country? What if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our town, in our state, in our country? Could we truly say without hesitation, "The children are well, yes, the children are well"? What would it be like: . . . if the President began a conference, every public appearance, by answering the question, "And how are the children, Mr. President?”; if every governor of every state had to answer the same question at every press conference, "And how are the children, Governor, are they well?" Wouldn't it be interesting to hear their answers?

Excerpted from a speech by
the Rev. Dr. Patrick T. O'Neill

INTERESTED TEENS LOOKING FOR A CHALLENGE ARE ENCOURAGED TO VOLUNTEER TO BE A PART OF MJP!  Check with your school counselor to see if this project qualifies for community service hours credit.

2023 Upcoming Training Dates: TBD

2023 MJP Sessions Are Held
On Every 2nd & 
4th Tuesday at the
Kankakee County Courthouse 

For More Info on the Masai Justice Project:

Contact The State's Attorney's Office
(815) 936-5800

Sign Up To Volunteer...

Thank you for your interest in volunteering. A Program Director will contact you.

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