In 2003, 9,875 juveniles were in jail or prison, according to Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2003 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2004). Of these juveniles, 6,869 were in jail (5,484 held as adults) and 3,006 were in state prisons. (See Table 7.5 and Table 2.11 in Chapter 2.) Juvenile males (2,880) far outnumbered females (126) in state prisons. The number of incarcerated juveniles has dropped since 1995. In that year, 7,800 juveniles were in jail, of whom 5,900 were being held as adults. In 1995, 5,309 juveniles were held in state prisons.
The most recent survey of the characteristics of juveniles in adult confinement was conducted by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs in 1998, published in Juveniles in Adult Prisons and Jails in 2000. For purposes of this survey, juveniles were defined as those seventeen and younger; the survey also collected matching data for the adult population. The federal prison system did not participate in the survey so the results are for state prisons and a number of local jail systems. Among juvenile offenders held in adult facilities, 3.3% were female, significantly lower than youths held in juvenile residential facilities (13%).
Table 7.6 shows the offenses for which youths and adults surveyed were incarcerated in state prison, the racial and ethnic composition of these two groups, and the manner in which they were housed. The major difference between the juvenile and the adult populations in 1998 was that only one in ten youths but one in five adults were serving time for drug offenses. Proportionally, therefore, more youths were held for offenses against persons and for property crimes than adults. A larger percentage of the juvenile population was
Juvenile arrest rates by offense and race, 1980–2002
African-American (55% versus 48% of adults), a smaller percentage was white (26% versus 35%), and a significantly higher percentage (4% versus 1% among adults) was Native American. A higher proportion of juveniles occupied single cells (30% versus 22% for adults) and slept in dormitories (51% versus 43% for the adult population).