Publication Date




Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Public Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Gaffney

Second Advisor

Dr. Nicole Warmington-Granson

Third Advisor

Dr. Vincent Jones


The topic selected for this research is Teen Court, also referred to as Peer Court or Youth Court. The researcher attempts to determine the effects teen diversion programs, such as Teen Court, have on reducing the rate of recidivism during one’s adolescent years. This approach uses a peer court system to hold them accountable for their actions. Teen court works, because it has peers influencing peers, versus another adult telling youths what they should do” (Garrett, 2009, p. 50). With a focus on past Teen Court participants and Teen Court personnel in Kankakee County, Illinois, the results from this study may help others to understand why this alternative to traditional juvenile court services has shown to be more successful in preventing future criminal activities. In addition to drastically reducing the recidivism rates for juveniles, Teen Court is an extremely cost-effective method. The results from this concurrent mixed-methods study revealed the reasons why Teen Court is successful in reducing juvenile recidivism rates: youth avoid a criminal record, peer sanctioning is perceived as fair, and the program is more cost-effective. This study took place in Kankakee County, Illinois in the participant’s residences or at the Kankakee County Courthouse.