Thesis Title

The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: How to Restore Justice for At-Risk Youth

Graduation Date

Fall 2008

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madalienne Peters, EdD


The current juvenile justice system in the United States faces many problems. For example, according to the U.S. Criminal Justice Statistics (2007), the cost of maintaining juvenile correctional facilities is expensive for state governments and its taxpayers to support. The conventional way of dealing with youth crimes in society is to punish the offender. The punishment of convicted juvenile offenders is seen to serve justice through deterrence. However, youth offenders often return from jail with limited opportunities for further education and often with a hardened criminal identity. Furthermore, both conventionally and historically, many victims of crime feel left out of the justice process and are not able to experience healing and humanizing lessons. More importantly, restorative justice programs decrease the recidivism of youth offenders. As a result, researchers and scholars have been inspired to find other alternatives to the traditional juvenile court process. This review of literature focuses primarily on one such alternative - restorative justice.

One of the restorative justice programs that this research project will focus on is Youth Court, also known as teen court, peer jury, or student court, which is an alternative program to the traditional juvenile justice system and school disciplinary proceedings that empower youth and communities to take an active role in addressing the early stages of youth delinquency. Over the last several years, Youth Court has become very popular across the United States. It exists as a student forum for juvenile offenders, holding youth accountable for their conduct and teaching them community accountability, while helping them change negative patterns into more appropriate and productive forms of behavior. The program also provides youth a meaningful volunteer opportunity.

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