CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, April 15, 2016

Kohm & Haefner on Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Teen Courts

Lynne Marie Kohm and Alison R. Haefner (Regent University - School of Law and Regent University, School of Law, Students) have posted Empowering Love and Respect for Child Offenders Through Therapeutic Jurisprudence: The Teen Courts Example (Sociology and Anthropology 4(4): 212-221 (2016)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article provides a viable alternative to traditional juvenile justice. A juvenile justice system essentially rests on the tradition of the best interest of the child standard, and is applied to the extent that the child is not transferred to adult criminal courts but sought to be rehabilitated in a court designed to meet the needs of children. Current juvenile justice systems, however, are in somewhat of a crisis. For example, for four decades the United States government has increased funding for incarcerating American youth, who are otherwise not a danger to public safety, in adult-like prisons. This trend has perpetuated juvenile crime into a lifestyle, and placed juvenile offenders at grave risk for abuse and a criminal future. Juvenile courts do not appear to be adequately handling juvenile crime, nor are they necessarily leaders in helping children in rehabilitation away from crime. In fact, the focus of the system is retributive, whether by intent or by caveat.

Combating this problem, a fascinating trend is emerging in juvenile justice - teen courts. As peer-based forums appearing in pockets throughout the United States, these teen courts are designed to actively draw the child into his or her own criminal process. Allowing the law to work as a therapeutic agent. We posit that the teen court process empowers children with respect from peers, family and community because of the therapeutic manner of administering the law to the child offender.

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