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San Diego Teen Court

Some youth in San Diego engaged in behaviors that put them at higher risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system, such as truancy, alcohol and tobacco use, and petty theft. For many first-time youth offenders in San Diego, few options for addressing these circumstances existed outside of the traditional court and probation system. Backlogs in these traditional systems prevented many offenders from receiving meaningful sanctions to deter recidivism.

San Diego Teen Court served as a model for experiential education for teens about the juvenile justice system and provided meaningful sanctions to offenders using a restorative justice model.  The primary goal of San Diego Teen Court was to provide a community-based alternative to the formal court system which specifically targeted youth ages 13 to 17 who had committed a first-time misdemeanor offense. The Court also aspired to deter youth from re-offending and provided them an opportunity to repair the harm caused to the community. The youth offenders appeared in Teen Court with student volunteers serving as prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and jury members.

The Criminal Justice Research Division was hired to conduct an evaluation of the San Diego Teen Court, a project which was funded by a grant from the California Board of Corrections. To perform this evaluation, data was collected from knowledge tests, arrest information, demographic surveys, participant satisfaction questionnaires, and follow-up interviews with offenders. Project duration was from July 2004 through September 2006.

Project Manager

Sandy Keaton, Senior Criminal Justice Research Analyst
Phone: (619) 699-6933, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or