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

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.

Better Research for Better Policies

In setting priorities for funding and support, intervention programs demonstrated to be effective and efficient are preferred over programs that are well intentioned but untested by rigorous evaluation. An evidence-based approach is undeniably better than an approach based on faith or anecdotes, but the findings of existing evaluations are not sufficient by themselves as a basis for effective policy-making. Translating research into practice requires more than a review of existing studies. It requires knowledge of the research process and its limitations.

The U.S. Juvenile Justice Policy Landscape

The diverse mix of policies and practices introduced in recent years raises important questions about the posture of juvenile justice today. Most scholars agree that decades of "get-tough" reforms diminished the influence of the juvenile court. Many contend that these changes rendered the criminal (adult) and juvenile justice systems largely indistinguishable. Others question these claims and suggest that rehabilitation remains a critical goal for juvenile justice professionals.

Whose Problem?

Rather than simply responding punitively to the criminal behavior of youth, we try to resolve the problems that generate criminal behavior - but whose problems? We Americans are biased in how we identify problems and choose solutions. We like to explain our social problems in a way that conforms to a predetermined set of affordable solutions.

Brick by Brick: Dismantling the Border between Juvenile and Adult Justice

Much of the American public and a growing number of policymakers appear to believe that the original concept of juvenile justice was flawed. Public criticism of the juvenile court intensified during the last two decades of the 20th century, and many States began to abandon those aspects of juvenile justice that were once distinctly different from the criminal (adult) justice system.