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Youth Courts: An Empirical Update and Analysis of Future Organizational and Research Needs

NCJ Number
Date Published
48 pages
After an overview of youth in the juvenile justice system, the cost of the juvenile justice system, and the philosophy/framework and goals of youth courts, this report provides an empirical update and analysis of future organizational and research needs.
Nationwide data presented address youth courts' workload, rate of case completion, and the use of volunteers during a 1-year period. The study concludes that youth courts have the potential to assist in solving major issues related to juvenile justice at a modest cost. Regarding workload, the average youth court accepted 104.634 cases from 116.703 referrals. Of the accepted cases, 100.782 advanced in the programs; and of these, 87.908 youth completed their sentence. For an individual court, approximately 1734.771 hours of community service were imposed. The average youth court used 120.57 teen and adult volunteers during the year, with 360.498 volunteer hours completed by adults and 1700.346 hours served by teens. Approximately one-third (35 percent) of youth courts have been operating 6-10 years; 7 percent have operated less than 2 years, and 3.67 percent have operated more than 20 years. Regarding operating budgets, 30.67 percent of the courts have a budget of less than $10,000, with only 12.33 percent operating on over $100,000. Thus, most youth courts have limited funds, which means that the number of paid staff must be limited. The mean number of full-time staff per court is 1.06, and the mean number of part-time staff is 1.28. These findings came from a survey of youth court coordinators of more than 1,255 local youth courts, teen courts, student courts, and peer courts in 49 States and Washington, DC, during September 2007. Responses were received from 178 eligible coordinators. 4 tables, 22 references, and appended questionnaire, correlation matrix, and methodological note

Date Published: January 1, 2008