A teen court evaluation with a therapeutic jurisprudence perspective

Victoria Weisz, Roger C. Lott, Nghi D. Thai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Teen court defendants were assessed on several attitudinal measures when they entered and when they completed their teen court program. Teen court volunteers and high school civics students in a control group were assessed on the same measures at two points in time that approximated the length of teen court involvement for defendants. Re-offense rates for defendants were assessed. In addition, defendants and their parents completed satisfaction surveys. The teen court experience did not significantly impact the attitudes and beliefs of either the defendants or the volunteers. The re-offense rate for defendants was 13%, which is similar to other teen court programs and less than the re-offense rate for the general diversion program in the county that was the target of the study. Since this teen court selected youth with the least serious delinquency activity (primarily shoplifting), conclusions about the program's effectiveness in reducing further offending cannot be made. Defendants and their parents reported high levels of satisfaction with their teen court experience but defendants became more alienated from institutional authority. This study did not support the teen court experience as having a generally beneficial impact on defendants or volunteers that would be expected from a therapeutic jurisprudence perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-392
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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