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NCJ Number: 205550 Find in a Library
Title: Self-Reported Delinquency Among Teen Court Participants
Journal: Journal for Juvenile Justice and Detention Services  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:33-49
Author(s): Andrew J. Dick Ph.D.; Reed Geertsen Ph.D.; Randall M. Jones Ph.D.
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study collected self-reported recidivism data on 120 participants from 7 teen court programs in Utah.
Abstract: Questionnaires were mailed to all teen court participants who had attended any of the seven programs between August 1998 and January 1999. The 120 completed questionnaires constituted a response rate of 37 percent. Information on the respondent's race, gender, age, and parent's marital status provided descriptive data on the study population. Recidivism, operationalized as self-reported law-violating behavior 6-12 months after attending teen court, was the outcome examined in this study. In addition to being asked the broad question as to whether they had broken the law since they were sent to teen court, respondents were also asked whether they had been arrested after attending teen court. A total of 59 (49.2 percent) of the respondents reported having broken the law after attending teen court, and only 14 (11.7 percent) stated that they had been arrested within 6-12 months after attending teen court. The measurement of factors potentially related to recidivism focused on the nature of the offenses for which they were sent to teen court and the characteristics of the dispositions received from the court. Gateway drug use was determined from responses to three questions concerning the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. The findings indicate that first-time and early offenders were diverted from continued criminal involvement and thus benefited significantly from the teen court experience; however, teen courts were less effective for youth with a history of delinquent behaviors. Youth who had broken the law four or more times were not diverted from further delinquency by the teen court. These findings suggest that as the number of offenses a youth has committed increases to over four, teen court administrators should consider whether it is appropriate to invite him/her to participate in this type of diversion program. Study findings confirm that gateway drug users were the youth most likely to have multiple prior offenses when first arrested. This study recommends that teen courts reconsider their current strategies for dealing with gateway drug users; they need more specialized attention from the juvenile court. Of the study sample, 82.5 percent were required to perform community service hours, and 49.2 percent were required to do some form of writing (e.g., an apology) as part of their disposition. Individuals with either of these dispositions were somewhat more likely to recidivate, particularly those with writing dispositions. Consistent with research in New Mexico (Harrison et al., 2001), these findings suggest that less intrusive and more personalized dispositions may be more appropriate for achieving the rehabilitation goals of teen courts. Study limitations are discussed, and recommendations for future research are offered. 4 tables and 27 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile Recidivism
Index Term(s): Juvenile Corrections/Detention effectiveness; Juvenile diversion programs; Juvenile recidivism statistics; Self-report studies; Teen Courts
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