Since the early 2000s, social scientists have observed growing contact between youth-especially marginalized youth-and the juvenile justice system in the United States. Diversion programs, such as youth courts, have been used in an attempt to curtail the growing population of court-involved youth by providing an alternative to formal juvenile justice involvement. Salt Lake Peer Court (SLPC) is a restorative-justice based youth court program. SLPC incorporates community service, skill building, and accountability practices to address the offenses of youth participants and reconnect them to their communities. Research on diversion programs like SLPC has shown a promising link between family-involved sentencing and youth success. For example, the use of family therapy can address some factors which are correlated with criminal behavior, by building family relationships and helping youth develop strategies to improve family functioning, which can be extended to other areas of their life. It is difficult, however, to generalize existing research to all diversion programs, due to variations across program structures and approaches. The heterogeneity of diversion programs necessitates a focused examination of SLPC, in order to determine the importance of parental involvement on the success of its participants. This study analyzes transcripts of previously conducted interviews with stakeholders in SLPC-including program directors, adult advisors, peer mentors, and school administration-in order to identify patterns related to parental involvement, family-involved sentencing, and youth success in the program. This analysis will be supplemented with observations conducted during Salt Lake Peer Court hearings in the 2022-2023 school year, and will allow for a greater understanding of how parental involvement may influence the effectiveness of SLPC for youth participants.
University / Institution: University of Utah
Format: In Person
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Rebecca Owen