Are Teen Courts a good idea as a diversionary program?
The devil is always in the details with programs like these. The goal is to somehow create a separate legal avenue for teen offenders, before they become habitual criminals, and direct them into drug treatment, job training, high school completion, anything but long term criminal behavior and prison cells. It certinaly makes ense, in many cases, not to treat juveniles as adult offenders, or to incarcerate them in an adult system that is wholly disinterested in their rehabilitation.
Some such programs have been very successful at reducing teen recidivism rates, while others have merely become a different legal dead end. So, to answer your question, I like the idea of these programs, as I like the idea of intervention in general, but without the necessary staffing, funding, and programs that complete the process of intervention on the other end of alternative sentencing, where it matters, diversionary programs can sometimes become a cruel joke and a failure.