Source: (2002) Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 20: 381-392.

Among the rise of specialty courts, teen courts show promise as a community-based approach to youth crime, write the authors of this article. Teen courts typically deal with first time, non-violent offenders who have admitted their guilt. In teen courts, youth volunteers may serve as attorneys, jurors, and bailiffs. Some jurisdictions have local attorneys as judges; some even have youth acting as judges. Generally, sentencing is done by the youth jury. The guiding principle is that youth will be more responsive to the disapproval of their peers than to disapproval or sanctions from an adult legal system. However, there have not been careful evaluations of the effectiveness of teen courts. In this context, the authors propose a therapeutic jurisprudence approach for evaluation of such courts. In essence, a therapeutic jurisprudence would examine whether participation in teen courts has general beneficial or therapeutic effects on youth.