Processing juvenile offenders in the traditional justice system can lead to a range of negative consequences. As an alternative to formal criminal processing, many jurisdictions have begun to implement diversion programs for first-time or low-level offenders. This systematic review sought to summarize evidence of the effectiveness of one commonly used diversion model, Teen Courts, on outcomes for juvenile offenders. Final analysis included 22 studies. Among the 15 studies that assessed statistical significance of recidivism, 4 found statistically significant results favoring Teen Courts, 1 found statistically significant results favoring the traditional justice system, and 10 found null results. Most studies provided little detail regarding the structure or approach of Teen Courts under study and varied widely in research design, comparison group, and operationalization of recidivism, making it difficult to compare results.
The Impact of Teen Courts on Youth Outcomes: A Systematic Review
The Impact of Teen Courts on Youth Outcomes: A Systematic Review | SpringerLink
Teen courts also known as peer courts are a specialised intervention that divert young people from the formal court system. Teen courts tend to be used for first time, less serious, non-violent offenders who are viewed as having a low risk of re-offending. Participation is voluntary, meaning that a young person can withdraw at any time, but will then be diverted back to the traditional justice system. A defining feature of a teen court is that other young people serve as at least some of the court personnel, such as the lawyer, judge or jury. The roles filled by young people will vary according to the model of teen court used. Most teen courts require the young person to admit guilt in order to participate. So, unlike the formal system, court proceedings are not focused on establishing guilt or innocence but rather on assigning constructive sentences that encourage them to accept responsibility for their actions while repairing harm to the community.
IsTeen Court effective for repeat offenders? A test of the restorative justice approach
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