Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 137–163 | Cite as

An experimental evaluation of teen courts

  • Wendy Povitsky Stickle
  • Nadine M. Connell
  • Denise M. Wilson
  • Denise Gottfredson


Teen Court (TC) is a juvenile diversion program designed to prevent the formal processing of first-time juvenile offenders within the juvenile justice system. TC instead utilizes informal processing and sanctions in order to prevent future offending. Despite its widespread popularity throughout the United States of America, little rigorous research has been conducted on the effectiveness of the TC model for reducing recidivism. Using an experimental design, this study examined the effectiveness of TC in reducing recidivism and improving the attitudes and opinions of juvenile offenders in comparison with a control group of youth who were formally processed. Self-reported delinquency was higher for those youth who participated in TC. TC youth were also found to have significantly lower scores on a scale of belief in conventional rules than had youth who were processed in the Department of Juveniles Services. Implications of these findings are discussed.


Diversion program Experimental design Juvenile delinquency Restorative justice Teen Court 



This project was supported by grant numbers JAIB-2003–1022, DYSF-2004–1018, EUDL-2004–1322, DYSF-2004–1322, YSPI-2005–1322, JINT-2002–1322, JJSC-2002–1322, JJAC-2002–1322, JINT-2004–1322, and JJAC-2003–1322 from the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and by grant number UM 040310–7573 from the Justice Research and Statistics Association. Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Justice Research and Statistics Association, or any State agency. The authors appreciate the assistance of Andrea Alexander, Mary Beth Stapleton, Jeff Gersh, and Jim Antel, of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Mary Abrams and Lakshmi Iyengar, of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, and the staff in the Local Management Boards (LMBs) in Anne Arundel, Caroline, and Kent Counties, who participated in this partnership project. Thanks also to each of the Teen Court Coordinators: Amy Galligan, Anne Ferkler, Jim Gossage, Georgine DeBord, Diann Harris, Maryellen Kraese, Erin Fay, and Rebecca Hill, as well as the members of the Maryland Teen Court Association. Finally, thanks to the following University of Maryland staff who assisted with this project: Stacy Najaka, Penny Beatty, Sara Betsinger, Heather Couture, Elizabeth Jones, and Shawn Flower.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy Povitsky Stickle
    • 1
  • Nadine M. Connell
    • 2
  • Denise M. Wilson
    • 1
  • Denise Gottfredson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Rowan UniversityGlasboroUSA

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