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With Only Tepid OJJDP Help, Teen Courts Catching on Across the Nation

NCJ Number
Youth Today Volume: 5 Issue: 6 Dated: (November/December 1996) Pages: 1,16,18,19
N Traver
Date Published
4 pages
Communities around the country are establishing teen courts staffed by adolescents who take the roles of judge, jury, prosecutor, and defense attorneys to handle cases of first-time minor offenders caught shoplifting, possessing alcohol or other drugs, being truant, fighting, vandalizing, or being involved in minor traffic violations.
Teen courts are also known as youth courts and peer courts. These courts have two purposes. They serve as a mechanism to hold youthful offenders accountable and also educate the participants in the workings of the legal system. Approximately 280 courts are now operating in 31 States and the District of Columbia, although they have not received Federal and State funding. The average cost of a teen court is $35,000 per year. Parents, judges, police chiefs, and youth workers tend to agree that they are effective with many kinds of youth, they also relieve the caseloads of juvenile courts. OJJDP has joined other agencies in publishing a manual on how to establish and operate a teen court but has not yet actively promoted or evaluated teen courts. Photographs and addresses from which to obtain more information