Source: (2008) Criminal Jusice Review. 33(3):361-378.
Teen Courts provide a forum in which juvenile offenders are sentenced by their peers. This system, based on principles of restorative justice, serves as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system. Sentencing options typically include restitution, community service, jury duty, apologies, attendance at educational workshops, and tours of correctional facilities. Previous research has examined the effectiveness of Teen Courts but little is known about how sentencing decisions are made. The purpose of this study was to assess how adolescent jurors make such decisions in one Teen Court program. The authors observe 32 Teen Court trials and deliberations and question 98 adolescent jurors about their sentencing choices. Results show that the deliberations are fairly cursory and that jurors have poor recollections of what evidence had been presented. Still, they put more weight on evidentiary information than on extralegal factors, and were motivated by a desire to rehabilitate offenders and set them on a socially acceptable pathâ€”goals consistent with restorative justice objectives on which Teen Court programs are based. (author’s abstract)
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