Essay On Teen Courts

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Are teen courts beneficial to young offenders?
One of the fasting growing juvenile treatment and interventions programs are known as teen courts. Teen courts serve as an alternative juvenile justice, to young offenders. Non-violent, and mostly first time offenders are sentenced by their peers’ in teen courts. Teen courts also serve as juvenile justice diversion programs. Teen courts vary from state to state, and sometimes within the same state. With this program, all parties of the judicial setting are juveniles with the exception of the judge. Each teen court, is designed specifically to meet the needs of the community it serves. Teen courts were created to re-educate offenders throughout the judicial process, create a program with sanctions that will allow the youth not to have a juvenile record, and to also instil a sense of responsibility.

The modern teen court concept began in the early 1970’s when a small number of local communities in America began to establish the first Global Youth Justice programs (Peterson, p. 2). In 1994 there were 78 youth court programs in existence. As of March, 2010, there are over 1,050 youth court programs in operation in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Teen courts serve as a “diversion” program used to divert first time offenders away from a lifetime of criminal activity. The primary function of most teen court programs is to determine a fair and restorative sentence or disposition for the youth respondent. Although the primary function of teen courts is to rehabilitate offenders, some may wonder if teen courts are actually beneficial to young offenders.
One of the major determining factors of the beneficialness of teen courts, is recidivism. According to Butts and Ort...

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...l behavior by educating youth, and youth are more likely to respond positively when being taught by other youth (Strobel, p.1).
In conclusion, teen courts are beneficial to young offenders. Jurisdictions across the country are using teen court as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system for their youngest and least serious offenders (Wilson, p. 15). It has been reported that teen court increases young offenders’ respect for the justice system and reduces recidivism by holding offenders accountable, starting with their first offense (Wilson, p. 15). Teen court are able to act more quickly and more efficiently than a traditional juvenile court (Wilson, p. 15). Teen courts teach peer justice, procedural justice, communication skills, deterrence skill building, and most importantly provides a safe environment for youth to be rehabilitated.

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