Varieties of Juvenile Court: Nonspecialized Courts, Teen Courts, Drug Courts, and Mental Health Courts

Butts, Jeffrey A., John K. Roman, and Jennifer Lynn-Whaley (2011). Varieties of Juvenile Court: Nonspecialized Courts, Teen Courts, Drug Courts, and Mental Health Courts, in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, Barry C. Feld and Donna M. Bishop (Editors). New York: Oxford University Press.

A juvenile court is a type of specialized court or a court docket devoted to one or more specific categories of legal matter. Today, there are many specialized courts. Some even operate within the juvenile justice system. Many of the new specialized courts are also known as problem-solving courts. Drug courts are the most visible type of problem-solving court, but other varieties exist, including courts for mental health cases, domestic violence cases, and offenders charged with gun crimes.  This chapter addresses the growing use of specialized, problem-solving courts for delinquent juveniles. After introducing the specialized nature of the juvenile court itself, we describe three of the most popular forms of specialized courts for youths (teen courts, juvenile drug court, and juvenile/family mental health courts), and we examine several key policy and practice issues related to their operation. Where did the idea for each court originate? How many exist in the United States today? What type of legal matters do they handle? How do they process cases, and what do we know about their effectiveness?