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Teen Courts in the United States: A Profile of Current Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1999
2 pages
This Fact Sheet summarizes the results of a survey to determine the features of every known teen court program in the Nation between October and December 1998 (n=335 respondents).
Just over two-thirds of the teen court programs that responded to the survey indicated they had operated for less than 5 years; of these, 20 percent had been operating for less than a year. Most of the teen courts had relatively small caseloads; 48 percent indicated they received fewer than 100 referrals per year. Only 9 percent of the programs reported processing 300 or more referrals annually. Most teen courts do not determine the guilt or innocence of the youth who come to the court. Rather, they serve as a diversion alternative based on a youth's admission to the charges against him/her. Administrators of teen court programs most often were juvenile courts, probation agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, or private youth agencies. Teen courts usually process first-time offenders charged with such offenses as theft, misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct, and possession of alcohol. Community service was the most common disposition used by teen courts. This survey was conducted as part of a national evaluation of teen courts. The next phase will involve conducting process and impact evaluations at four teen courts. 1 figure and 1 table

Date Published: October 1, 1999