Multijurisdictional Teen Court Evaluation: A Comparative Evaluation of Three Teen Court Modelsedit
This report presents the results of a comparative evaluation of three teen courts in the State of Maryland. Maryland currently has 10 teen courts operating throughout the State. The study was undertaken in order to better understand the process and effectiveness of these courts. A comparative evaluation was conducted on three geographically diverse teen courts in the State, namely those located in Baltimore City, Charles County, and Montgomery County. The study looked at recidivism data from the three courts and found that 1) all three program offered an alternative to traditional case processing; 2) while the three courts were geographically diverse, they all had similar structures and procedures; and 3) all three courts emphasized youth decision-making with support from adult volunteers. Some differences were found between the way each of the courts handled different types of offenses and recommended different sanctions for these offenses. Most importantly, the study found that in all three courts, recidivism rates for participants measured at 6 months and 12 months after program completion were significantly lower than rates for youth who did not participate in the program. In addition, students and their families who participated in the program showed significant improvement on standardized measures of functioning and coping. These findings strongly support the need for continued operation of the teen court program in Maryland.