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Guide for Implementing Teen Court Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1996
2 pages
This Fact Sheet provides guidance for establishing a teen court, also called peer and youth courts, which is an alternative approach to the traditional juvenile justice system.
In a teen court, youth defendants are required to plead guilty prior to appearing m the youth court. Only a small number of teen courts are structured to determine guilt or innocence. Most teen courts only act as peer sentencing juries that determine whether youth who have committed minor offenses will receive sentences of community service, counseling, restitution, and/or an apology to the victim. This approach is intended to send a strong message to the community, including other youth, that responsible youth do not condone law-breaking behavior. As a guide for implementing a teen court program, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recommends a publication of the American Probation and Parole Association, "Peer Justice and Youth Empowerment: An Implementation Guide for Teen Court Programs." It provides an overview of the teen court concept; descriptions of two teen court models (trial models and peer jury models); stakeholder partnerships; legal issues; program purpose, goals, and objectives; offender population and referral process; sentencing options and victim services; effective case management; recruitment, use, and training of volunteers; financial resources; and program evaluation.

Date Published: August 1, 1996