Alternative Dispositions

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Reflect on the main points discussed in the Module Six resources. Pay close attention to the sections on “peer court.” What is your opinion of peer court? What are the advantages and disadvantages of peer court in equitably resolving cases? What are alternatives to peer court?

https://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/9909-3/div.html

http://www.juvjustice.org/our-work/safety-opportun…

https://www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/9912_2/juv2.html

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/83575.pdf


While Module Five introduced the classification and adjudicatory process, Module Six goes deeper and explores other types of dispositions.

Throughout the course, different kinds of dispositions and how they differ from adult dispositions have been discussed. Adding to that discussion, juvenile courts have different disposition alternatives available at their disposal. Though rehabilitation was to be a main focus of disposition, there are some who suggest that disposition has become more punitive in nature due to revisions in some states’ juvenile code purpose clauses, expansion of opportunities to transfer cases to adult criminal court, and blended sentencing (Whitehead & Lab, 2013, p. 222). The severity of the crime and prior records affect the purpose and type of disposition.

Nominal dispositions include non-incarceration alternatives such as verbal or written warnings, and are used by police officers and courts for low risk offenders (Champion, Merlo, & Benekos, 2013, p. 360; Michon, n.d.). If law enforcement imposes nominal dispositions, offenders can be taken into custody and released to their parents without a formal incident record (Champion et al., 2013, p. 361). Warnings can be issued even after a petition is filed. However, warnings are more serious since the offender has been adjudicated delinquent (Champion et al., 2013, pp. 361, 362).

Another disposition option for low-risk offenders is diversion, which refers offenders to treatment or care programs while halting the legal proceedings (Champion et al., 2013, p. 360). But there is some debate as to who should receive the diversion option. Some advocate that offenders who commit delinquent acts should receive diversion, while others argue that diversion would be appropriate for status offenders before their level of activity escalates (Champion et al., 2013, p. 362).

Teen courts’ specialized diversion programs are a newer alternative to juvenile court adjudication. In teen courts, the offender’s peers serve as juries and an adult/peer serves as a judge (Champion et al., 2013, p. 368; Butts, 2002). The punishments include writing essays, paying restitution, performing community service, and attending decision-making skills/victim awareness classes (Butts, 2002).

Alternative dispute resolution, also commonly referred to as ADR, supports parties resolving a conflict together without the intervention of the juvenile court. Regardless of location, ADRs share at least five commonalities: voluntary participation, the parties know each other, referral process, third-party mediators, and informal process (Whitehead & Lab, 2013, p. 324). Fines, counseling, day reporting centers, and community service are other non-incarceration alternatives for low-risk offenders (Champion et al., 2013, pp. 360, 379; Michon, n.d.).

In conclusion, Module Six explores alternative dispute resolution, diversion programs, and nominal dispositions. Module Seven will discuss juvenile probation and community-based corrections.

References

Butts, J. A. (2002). The impact of teen court on young offenders [Research report]. Urban Institute Justice Policy Center. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/410457.pdf

Champion, D. J., Merlo, A. V., & Benekos, P. J. (2013). The juvenile justice system: Delinquency, processing, and the law. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Michon, K. (n.d.). Juvenile court sentencing options. NOLO Law for All. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/juvenile-co…

Whitehead, J. T. & Lab, S. P. (2013). Juvenile justice: An introduction. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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