National Data Collection Project

U.S. Department of Justice and George Washington University

Youth/Teen/Student/Peer Court and Peer Jury


Youth Justice Diversion Programs are also referred to as

  • Teen Court diversion program
  • Peer Court diversion program
  • Student Court diversion program
  • Youth Court diversion program
  • Youth Peer Panel diversion program
  • Youth Peer Jury diversion program
  • Peer Jury diversion program

 Youth Justice Diversion Program Operations

Agencies operating and administering youth justice programs include juvenile courts, juvenile probation departments, law enforcement, private nonprofit organizations, district attorney offices, youth bureaus, schools and more than 10+ other agencies and organizations.  According to the Federal Government (USA):

  • Approximately 42% of youth justice programs in operation are juvenile justice system-based programs.
  • Approximately 22% of youth justice programs are community-based and are incorporated as, or operated by, private nonprofit organizations.
  • Approximately 36% of youth justice programs are school-based.

Youth Justice Diversion Program Functions

The primary function of most youth justice programs is to determine a fair and restorative sentence or disposition for the youth respondent.

According to the Federal Government (USA):

  • 93% of youth justice programs in the U.S. require youth to admit guilt prior to participating in youth court.
  • In the 7% of youth justice programs that allow youth to plead “not guilty”, if a youth chooses to plead “not guilty”, the program conducts a hearing to determine guilt or innocence. If the defendant is found “guilty,” then an appropriate disposition is rendered by the youth justice program.
  • When defendants successfully complete a youth justice program, 63% of youth justice programs dismiss the charges. 27% immediately expunge the defendant’s record.

Youth Justice Program Models (25+ Models w/100’s of Programmatic Differences)

The four primary youth court program models are the Adult Judge, Youth Judge, Peer Jury, and Youth Tribunal Models.  Approximately twenty-five (25) variations exist, with hundreds of programmatic differences.  Some local communities operate two (2) different youth justice models.  Like Juvenile Justice – most Youth Justice operational and administrative decisions are locally determined by adult community leaders, with active youth involvement.

According to the Federal Government (USA):

  • The Adult Judge My model is used by approximately 41% of youth justice programs.
  • The Youth Judge Model is used by approximately 26% of youth justice programs.
  • The Peer Jury Model is used by approximately 21% of youth justice programs.
  • The Youth Tribunal Model is used by approximately 12% of youth justice programs.

Typical Crimes, Offenses and Violations Accepted for Disposition

Source: Federal Government (USA)

Type of offense Percentage of Youth Justice Programs that accept this type of offense
Theft 91%
Vandalism/Graffiti 76%
Alcohol 73%
Disorderly Conduct 73%
Assault 67%
Possession of Marijuana 60%
Tobacco 59%
Curfew Violations 50%
School Disciplinary 45%
Traffic Violation 39%
Truancy 39%
Trespassing 38%
Criminal Mischief 30%
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia 24%
Other drug offenses 20%
Harassment 21%
Fraud 8%

Typical Sentencing Options Youth/Teen/Student/Peer Courts Utilize

Source: Federal Government (USA)

Sentencing option Percentage of youth justice programs that use this sentencing option
Community Service 99%
Oral/Written Apologies 94%
Essays 92%
Educational Workshops 73%
Jury Duty 73%
Restitution 61%
Alcohol/Drug Assessment 57%
Curfew 46%
Tutoring 37%
Counseling 37%
Drug Testing 31%
Victim Awareness Classes 29%
Victim/Offender Mediation 28%
Peer Mediation 23%
Jail Tour 22%
Observe Teen Court 14%
Mentoring 13%
Suspend Driver’s License 9%

 Miscellaneous Facts and Stats (USA)

  • 53% of youth justice programs require respondents to participate in jury duty at least once as part of their sentence.
  • The average amount of training that most youth justice volunteers receive is 10 hours.
  • 55% of youth justice programs close their hearings to the general public.
  • 30% of youth justice programs hold hearings at least once a month.
  • 72% of youth justice programs hold hearings all year long vs. 28% of programs that operate during the school year only.
  • The average reported annual budget for a youth justice program is approximately $32,767.  Some programs operation on a $1,000 budget and other operate on a $100,000 budget.  Programmatic services often are the primary factor in the annual operational expenses.

George Washington University – Data Collection Highlight

Youth/Teen/Student/Peer Court
Annual Involvement

Youthful Offenders

  • 129,540 youthful offender referrals are made each year to these programs.
  • 116,114 of the 129,540 youthful offender referrals made to these programs are accepted each year.
  • 111,868 of the accepted 116,114 youthful offender referrals proceed each year in these programs.
  • 97,578 of the 111,868 referrals that proceeded in these programs completed their peer imposed sentence.
  • 1,925,596 hours of mandated community service were completed by the 97,578 youthful offenders who completed their peer imposes sentences.
  • 96.6% of the 89.6% juvenile offenders referred proceeded in the program.
  • 86.3% of the juvenile offenders that proceeded in the program completed their peer imposed sentence (This is a very respectable completion rate).*

Volunteers:  Youth and Adults

  • 117,310 youth volunteered during a one year period for these programs.
  • 16,522 adults volunteered during a one year period for these programs.
  • 133,832 youth and adults volunteered in these programs.