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Peer Justice and Youth Empowerment: An Implementation Guide for Teen Court Programs, November 1998 Update

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 1998
297 pages
The primary objective of this guide is to provide juvenile justice agencies with baseline information that will assist them in developing, implementing, and enhancing teen court programs as a viable alternative for juvenile offenders in their communities.
In teen courts, court officers (attorneys, court clerk, bailiff, jurors, and sometimes the judge) are all under the age of 19. In teen courts, juvenile defendants are both judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers. In addition to providing defendants with a true jury of their peers, such courts also provide valuable experience in the legal system to the many youth who volunteer to serve in teen courts. Teen courts, also known as youth courts, are emerging as a promising mechanism for holding accountable youth charged with status offenses, such as alcohol possession, and misdemeanor offenses, as well as for promoting and providing avenues for positive development. Teen courts provide jurisdictions with an alternative method for sanctioning these youthful offenders, whom the formal juvenile justice system often ignores due to a lack of resources and the need to focus on more serious offenses. Following an overview of the teen court concept, this guide presents a chapter on organizing the community to lay the groundwork for a teen court. A chapter then provides an overview of legal issues for teen courts, including issues of due process and consent, confidentiality, and liability. The development of program purpose, goals, and objectives is discussed in another chapter, followed by a chapter that addresses the determination of a target population and the design of a referral process. Remaining chapters focus on the design of program services; the development of a program model and procedures, as well as the implementation of effective case management practices; recruiting, using, and training volunteers; examining human and financial resource issues; and program evaluation. 55 figures, 4 tables, appended sample forms and materials, and 105 references

Date Published: November 1, 1998