Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Justice


While youth courts experience tremendous growth nationwide, their utility is largely unproven, particularly in state-level contexts. This study conducted a cost-benefit analysis of South Carolina's youth courts. The study found that while youth courts and family courts produced comparable recidivism rates, youth courts were substantially less expensive for comparable adjudications. The relative efficiency of youth courts, however, was neither monolithic nor guaranteed. Individual youth courts displayed considerable variation and some youth courts were not as efficient as their traditional family court counterparts. Inefficient youth courts had low caseloads, typically resulting from inefficient or immature referral systems and a reliance on borrowed courthouse resources.