Source: (2003) Journal of Juvenile Law. 24:155-164.
There are almost 900 teen courts currently operating in the United States. Because there are no national laws governing teen courts, a lack of uniformity exists across the nation in relation to the processes and structure used by teen courts. However, in all models, youth volunteers essentially run the courts. Kendall briefly describes the structure and procedures employed in the four most common teen court models. While there has been much positive criticism of teen courts, there has only been one study comparing the recidivism rates of teen courts and our traditional juvenile court system. The results of this study show that teen courts successfully decrease recidivism rates. However, it remains unclear whether teen courts are successful in combating juvenile crime. Additionally, Kendall discusses the most common potential legal issues teen courts may encounter: authorization to operate under state law, due process concerns and informed consent of the teen and the parent or guardian, the â€œwider net of social controlâ€ that is inherent in these courts, and variation in sentencing that teen offenders in these courts receive. Kendall concludes by saying that national legislation providing uniformity to teen courts would be beneficial to their success.
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