Evaluation of Teen Courts

logo_ojjdp_newThe Evaluation of Teen Courts (ETC) Project  investigated how teen courts respond to young offenders and measured the effect of teen court sanctions and services on recidivism.

The project assessed the impact of teen courts (or youth courts) on juveniles accused of misdemeanors and generally non-violent offenses. The evaluation collected data on youth outcomes such as post-program recidivism and changes in the teen’s perceptions of the justice system (respect for authority, trust in the police, etc.).

Juveniles handled in teen court were compared with those handled in the traditional juvenile justice system. Researchers measured the extent to which teen court outcomes differed from outcomes for similar offenders handled under normal procedures, including the dismissal of charges or informal adjustment.

The evaluation investigated a variety of teen court models. Some courts used adult judges while others used only youth judges. Some courts were authorized to determine a youth’s guilt while others only imposed dispositions on juveniles who had previously admitted their guilt. The purpose of the evaluation was not to select one model over another, but to establish a baseline of outcome information for the range of teen court models now being used throughout the country.

The ETC Project was conducted in four jurisdictions. The jurisdictions were chosen to maximize: the number of case processing models used by the programs, the mix of geographic locations represented, and the overall quality and length of service of each program.

The teen courts involved in the study were located in:

  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Maricopa County, Arizona
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Independence, Missouri

The results from the project were available in 2002.


Project Staff

Jeffrey Butts, PI
Janeen Buck
Mark Coggeshall
Alexa Hirst

Research Assistants
Marcy Bray (Missouri)
Sharon Brown (Missouri)
Jeanine Giordano (Arizona)
Kara McComas (Alaska)
Christopher Rast (Missouri)
Hilary Smith (Arizona)
Jamila Smith (Maryland)
Jennifer Troia (Maryland)


$800,00. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Butts, Jeffrey A. & Janeen Buck (2000). Teen Courts: A Focus on Research (OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin). Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice.

Butts, Jeffrey A. Janeen Buck, & Mark Coggeshall (2002). The Impact of Teen Court on Young Offenders. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

Butts, Jeffrey A. & Janeen Buck (2002). The Sudden Popularity of Teen Courts. (Judge’s Journal). Chicago, IL: The American Bar Association.

Butts, Jeffrey A., Janeen Buck, and Mark Coggeshall (2001). Youth Court: Models and Impact. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum Congressional Briefing, December 3, 2001.

Butts, Jeffrey A., Janeen Buck, and Mark Coggeshall (2002). Effects of Youth Court: Results from the OJJDP Evaluation. Arlington, VA: National Youth Court Conference, April 15, 2002