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Is Teen Court Effective for Repeat Offenders?: A Test of the Restorative Justice Approach

Forgays, Deborah Kirby
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 49(1): 107-118.

In recent years the popularity of youth courts has grown quickly; there are currently an estimated 880 youth courts operating across the United States. These courts have shown success in offering effective judicial alternatives to first-time juvenile offenders. The current study examined whether youth courts would have the same effectiveness with second-time juvenile offenders by comparing the recidivism and sentence completion outcomes of 26 second-time youth offenders sentenced in Whatcom County Teen Court to the outcomes of a sample of first-time Court Diversion (CD) youth offenders. Participants’ Intake and Assessment Records provided information about demographic variables and details about current and previous offenses; data on sentence completion was derived from Whatcom County court records. A nine-item exit survey assessed offender’s attitudes toward teen court. Results indicate that teen court can effectively reduce recidivism among second-time juvenile offenders. For the teen court participants, sentence completion rates were high and recidivism was low at the 6-month post-court appearance. Participants also perceived teen court as fair and valuable. The findings thus indicate that youth courts have the potential to be a powerful restorative justice process, offering an effective alternative for a range of juvenile offenders. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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