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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Gun Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
3 pages
Based on a literature review, this study examined the theoretical foundation and features of juvenile gun courts, distinctions between juvenile and adult gun courts, and their effectiveness in achieving their goals.
A "gun court" is a type of problemsolving court that focuses on processing and managing youth who have committed first-time, non-violent gun offenses that did not result in serious physical injury. Most juvenile gun courts consist of short-term programs that supplement rather than replace traditional juvenile court proceedings by focusing on preventing future gun use. The theoretical foundation of all such problemsolving courts is to use judicial authority to monitor treatment for specific types of problem behavior, such as gun use, drug use, and mental health issues. Although only a few gun courts and associated treatment programs have been developed to date, interest in these courts is increasing. Currently, there are juvenile gun courts operating in Detroit, MI; Indianapolis, IN; New York, NY; Pima County, AZ; and Washington, DC. Whereas adult gun courts emphasize efficient case processing and usually result in harsh punishments, even for first-time offenders, juvenile gun courts focus on behavioral and attitudinal interventions monitored by court judges. This monitoring includes graduated restrictions for failures to respond appropriately to interventions. Regarding the effectiveness of juvenile gun courts, only a few evaluations have been conducted due to the small number of juvenile gun courts. Results are reported for the evaluation of a juvenile gun court in Jefferson County, Alabama. Although reduced recidivism was found for gun court participants, limitations in the evaluation design are noted. 5 references