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Making Youth Court as Effective as Possible

NCJ Number
Deborah Williamson; James Wells
Date Published
12 pages
This paper examines the operation and ongoing evaluation of youth courts in the State of Kentucky in an attempt to refine and continue both the growth and success of the program.
Since 1992, youth courts have been operating in the State of Kentucky as an option for formal courts and permitting more flexibility in handling cases with a wide range of outcomes. Today's Kentucky youth court program has expanded and serves 30 of the judicial system's 60 districts throughout the State. In this time, the State has focused on evaluation to refine and improve how the youth court program is operated. Since 1995, the Center for Criminal Justice Education and Research at Eastern Kentucky University has been evaluating youth courts that are administered by the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts. The results of these evaluations have been numerous and valuable, containing important descriptive information about the youth courts. This paper shares what has been learned in Kentucky over the last 12 years about youth courts and what makes them work. The paper shares preliminary findings, observations, and recommendations. In summary, referral to youth court is a viable option for district court judges, an option that advances responsibility, accountability, and reformation among juvenile offenders. References