Where Teens Find the Jury Isn’t Rigged
By Tina Rosenberg
…There is evidence, however, that youth courts do more than simply divert teens from juvenile justice: they actively create pro-social behavior. The Urban Institute study found a clue: the courts that give the most autonomy to the teens themselves work best. It helps if defendants see their peers as speaking for themselves rather than conveying a message from adults. Also, the more courts are run by teens, the more authority and respect they enjoy. In the roughest neighborhoods, respect goes to those who are most feared. For some teens it is probably eye-opening to see their peers commanding respect for good behavior.
“The most powerful factor is peer support for pro-social behavior,” said Jeffrey Butts, one of the authors of the Urban Institute study, who is now the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “When a judge controls the room — that’s what their whole life is like. That’s no different than high school.”
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