Program

Jun 29, 2009

OVERVIEW

Teen Courts are an
alternative to regular juvenile justice processing. These courts use peer
volunteers for jurors, advocates/attorneys, and sometimes judges to encourage a
youth to see that they made a poor decision rather than labeling them as a bad
person. In this evaluation, delinquent teens were randomly assigned to treatment
as usual (regular juvenile justice processing) or to the teen court condition.
The evaluation found negative results for adolescents assigned to the Teen Court
condition; they were significantly more likely to be delinquent than those in
the treatment as usual condition.

DESCRIPTION OF
PROGRAM

Target
Population:
Juvenile offenders

This program
attempts to use a different model to give first-time, juvenile offenders with
misdemeanors or minor offenses a different experience from the traditional
juvenile justice system. The program recreates a courtroom setting and uses
peers to occupy jury, judge, and attorney positions. The peer jury decides on a
punishment such as an apology letter, drug tests, counseling, or a school
project.

EVALUATION OF
PROGRAM:

Stickle, W. P.,
Connell, N. M., Wilson, D. M., & Gottfredson, D. (2008). An experimental
evaluation of teen courts. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4(2),
137-163.

Evaluated
Population: 
Delinquent teens averaging about 15 years of age were evaluated
in this study. Of the sample, most were male and most were white. The sample
consisted of adolescents mostly in ninth grade.

Approach: The authors measured self-reported behavioral and attitudinal
measures: drug use, variety of drug use, delinquent behavior, social skills,
neighborhood attachment, rebelliousness, and belief in conventional rules. They
collected two official reports as well: rate of offending and re-arrest.

Results: Self-reported delinquency was significantly higher in the
treatment group (teen court) compared with the control group (treatment as
usual).The treatment group was significantly more likely (effect size,
d=0.51) to report delinquency than the control group. Several outcomes were
borderline significant in a negative direction: drug use, variety of drug use,
and recidivism according to official records of delinquent behavior. Other
variables were non-significant: social skills, neighborhood attachment,
rebelliousness, belief in conventional rules, rate of offending, and re-arrest.
Without controls for demographic variables, self-reported delinquency and a
belief in conventional rules were both significantly worse in the treatment
group.

SOURCES FOR MORE
INFORMATION:

Link to program curriculum
(Knox County, IL as an example):

http://library.thinkquest.org/2640/

References

Stickle, W. P.,
Connell, N. M., Wilson, D. M., & Gottfredson, D. (2008). An experimental
evaluation of teen courts. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4(2),
137-163.

KEYWORDS:
Adolescence (12-17), Youth (16+), Community-Based, Externalizing Problems,
Conduct Problems, Delinquency (e.g., truancy, vandalism, theft, assault, etc),
Illicit Drugs, Juvenile Offenders, High School, White or Caucasian.

Program information last updated 6/29/09

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