Abstract:

 

Teen court, also called youth, peer, or student court, is a diversion program used primarily in the United States, but also in at least ten other countries, for juveniles who have committed minor crimes. The sentences imposed on juvenile offenders may include restitution and mandatory jury duty in other teen court cases. Many teen courts claim to apply restorative justice. The American Bar Association, the National Association of Youth Courts, and academics have claimed teen court is a restorative program. This study randomly reviewed 164 teen court websites for American programs and found 32 claimed to be restorative. The study applied the teen court process to criteria for restorative programs established by Eglash (1977), Christie (1977) and Zehr (2015), which determined teen court is not restorative. Teen court is an autocratic and adversarial process used primarily for determining punishment. Teen courts claim that they are restorative because youth take accountability by admitting guilt and choosing to participate in the program, which is true for all juveniles pleading guilty in traditional juvenile courts. The paper explores how teen court programs can be restructured into restorative justice programs looking at two former teen court directors who turned their programs into restorative ones.

 

Keywords:

teen court, youth court, peer court, juvenile diversion, restorative justice

Teen court, also called youth, peer, or student court, is a diversion program used primarily in the United States, but also in at least ten other countries, for juveniles who have committed minor crimes. The sentences imposed on juvenile offenders may include restitution and mandatory jury duty in other teen court cases. Many teen courts claim to apply restorative justice. The American Bar Association, the National Association of Youth Courts, and academics have claimed teen court is a restorative program. This study randomly reviewed 164 teen court websites for American programs and found 32 claimed to be restorative. The study applied the teen court process to criteria for restorative programs established by Eglash (1977), Christie (1977) and Zehr (2015), which determined teen court is not restorative. Teen court is an autocratic and adversarial process used primarily for determining punishment. Teen courts claim that they are restorative because youth take accountability by admitting guilt and choosing to participate in the program, which is true for all juveniles pleading guilty in traditional juvenile courts. The paper explores how teen court programs can be restructured into restorative justice programs looking at two former teen court directors who turned their programs into restorative ones.

 

Keywords:

teen court, youth court, peer court, juvenile diversion, restorative justice

Walker, L et al (2018) What is Restorative About Teen Court?

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  • To cite this article:  Walker, L., Rodgers, K., & Umbreit, M. (2018). What is Restorative About Teen Court?. Internet Journal of Restorative Justice, Special Issue Restorative Justice and Complex Crimes, ISBN: 978-1-911634-06-5, ISSN (online): 2056-2985.

     

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    Corresponding Author(s):

    Lorenn Walker, Adjunct Associate Professor, Office of Public Health Studies, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, University of Hawai’i & Director, Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice, P.O. Box 489, Waialua, Hawai’i  96791, USA; lorenn@hawaii.edu

     

    Keyria Rodgers, Director of the Macon County Teen Justice Program, Criminal Justice Program Director

     

    Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Organizational Leadership, Millikin University, 184 W. Main Street, Decatur, IL 62522, USA; krodgers@millikin.edu

     

    Mark Umbreit, Director, Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking, and Professor, Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, 105 Peters Hall, 1404 Gortner Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA; mumbreit@umn.edu

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