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Juvenile Crime - Juvenile Arrests

percent rate juveniles index

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 2.27 million juveniles (people under the age of 18) were arrested in 2001. This number represents a decrease of 20 percent from 1997 to 2001 and of 4 percent from 2000 to 2001. Most of the juveniles who were arrested were males, and were 15 or older. The only categories of crime in which juveniles under 15 accounted for the majority of arrests were arson (64 percent) and for sex offenses other than forcible rape and prostitution (54 percent). They also accounted for about 40 percent of arrests in the categories of non-aggravated assault, forcible rape, burglary, larceny-theft, and vandalism. Arrest rates for female juvenile offenders in 2001 were highest for prostitution and commercialized vice (69 percent of all juvenile arrests for these crimes), running away (59 percent), embezzlement (44 percent), larceny-theft (39 percent) and offenses against family and children (37 percent). (See Table 5.1.)

Males are arrested more often than females. In 2002, 72 percent of arrested juveniles were male, and 28 percent were female. The ratio of juvenile male to female arrests was even higher for violent crime: 82 percent in 2002 were male, and 18 percent were female.

From 1993 to 2002 female juvenile arrests increased by 6.4 percent. For such violent crimes as murder and robbery from 1993 to 2002, female juvenile arrests decreased. For forcible rape, however, female juvenile arrests increased by 45.8 percent. During the same period female juvenile arrests for drug abuse violations increased 120 percent, embezzlement arrests increased 76.2 percent, and offenses against the family and children increased by 54.9 percent. (See Table 1.6 in Chapter 1.)

In 2001 juveniles comprised 15.4 percent of all Violent Crime Index arrests in the United States, a decrease from the 1997 rate of 17.2 percent, and 30.4 percent of all Property Crime Index arrests, a decrease from the 1997 rate of 34.8 percent. Juveniles accounted for 49.5 percent of arson arrests, 38.9 percent of arrests for vandalism, 32.7 percent of motor vehicle thefts, and 23.6 percent of all robberies in the United States in 2001. (See Table 5.2.) In 2002 those under 18 years old comprised 16.5 percent (1.6 million) of all arrests in the U.S., 14.9 percent (66,508) of violent crime arrests, and 29.8 percent (349,000) of property crime arrests. (See Table 1.4 in Chapter 1.)

Police have a variety of options when dealing with juvenile offenders. In 2002 some 18 percent of all juvenile cases were handled within the police department and the offenders released. Seven percent were referred to criminal or adult court, while 72.8 percent were referred to juvenile court. Rural counties were more likely to refer cases to criminal or adult court (11.5 percent), while suburban counties were more likely to refer cases to juvenile court (74.1 percent). Cities with populations over 250,000 were more likely to handle cases within the police department (20.1 percent) or refer them to juvenile court (76.3 percent), while few referrals were made to criminal or adult court (1.9 percent). (See Table 5.3.)

Violent Crimes

The rate of juvenile arrests for violent crimes increased dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, peaking in 1994 at over 500 per 100,000 youths ages 10 through 17. Between 1994 and 2001 juvenile arrests for Violent Crime Index offenses declined by 44 percent to a rate of 296 arrests for every 100,000 persons 10 to 17 years of age. (See Figure 5.1.) For juveniles 15 to 17 years of age, the Violent Crime Index arrest rate declined by 46 percent between 1994 and 2001, compared to a 24 percent decline for adults 18 to 24 years of age, a 30 percent drop for arrestees 25 to 29 years old, and a 22 percent decline for adult arrestees 30 to 39 years of age. (See Figure 5.2.)

TABLE 5.1
Estimated number of juvenile arrests, 2001

Percent of total juvenile arrests Percent change
Most serious offense Number of juvenile arrests Female Under age 15 1992–2001 1997–2001 2000–2001
Total 2,273,500 28% 32% −3% −20% −4%
Crime Index total 587,900 29 37 −31 −28 −5
Violent Crime Index 96,500 18 33 −21 −21 −2
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter 1,400 10 12 −62 −47 −2
Forcible rape 4,600 1 38 −24 −14 −1
Robbery 25,600 9 24 −32 −35 −4
Aggravated assault 64,900 23 37 −14 −13 −1
Property Crime Index 491,400 31 38 −32 −29 −6
Burglary 90,300 12 38 −40 −30 −6
Larceny-theft 343,600 39 39 −27 −30 −6
Motor vehicle theft 48,200 17 25 −51 −26 −2
Arson 9,300 12 64 −7 −9 8
Nonindex
Other assaults 239,000 32 43 30 −2 2
Forgery and counterfeiting 5,800 36 11 −27 −26 −8
Fraud 8,900 33 16 −5 −18 −9
Embezzlement 1,800 44 7 152 24 −10
Stolen property (buying, receiving, possessing) 26,800 17 27 −45 −37 −6
Vandalism 105,300 13 44 −29 −22 −7
Weapons (carrying, possessing, etc.) 37,500 11 34 −35 −26 0
Prostitution and commercialized vice 1,400 69 15 −8 −5 15
Sex offenses (except forcible rape and prostitution) 18,000 8 54 −10 6 1
Drug abuse violations 202,500 15 17 121 −7 0
Gambling 1,400 3 13 −53 −47 −17
Offenses against the family and children 9,600 37 37 109 −11 6
Driving under the influence 20,300 18 5 35 5 −3
Liquor law violations 138,100 32 10 21 −9 −11
Drunkenness 20,400 21 13 4 −21 −10
Disorderly conduct 171,700 30 40 34 −21 1
Vagrancy 2,300 19 25 −37 −24 −10
All other offenses (except traffic) 397,200 26 28 27 −13 −3
Suspicion 1,300 36 33 −53 −42 9
Curfew and loitering 142,900 31 28 34 −29 −13
Runaways 133,300 59 38 −25 −30 −6
SOURCE: "Estimated Number of Juvenile Arrests, 2001," in Statistical Briefing Book, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC, 2003 [Online] http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/crime/qa05101.asp?qaDate=20030531 [accessed April 10, 2004]

Over the past few years the largest decline in juvenile violent crime arrests was in the murder rate. Arrests of juveniles for murder peaked in 1993. Between 1993 and 2001, the juvenile arrest rate for murder had dropped almost 70 percent, reaching its lowest level in 20 years and erasing the more than 50 percent rise in juvenile murders from 1986 to 1993. (See Figure 5.3.) Juveniles were arrested in 10 percent of all murders committed in 2001.

Juvenile arrest rates for forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault also declined from their peak levels in the early- to mid-1990s. From 1980 to 1991, the juvenile arrest rate for forcible rape increased by 44 percent. By 2001, the rate had fallen to a level 13 percent lower than in 1980. (See Figure 5.4.) By 2001 juvenile arrest rates for robbery fell 59 percent from the peak years of 1994–1995. (See Figure 5.5.) The juvenile arrest rate for aggravated assault fell by 33 percent between 1994 and 2001. However, the 2001 rate was still 37 percent higher than it was in 1980. (See Figure 5.6.)

Property Crimes

From 1980 to 1994, juvenile arrests for Property Crime Index offenses were relatively stable for persons 10 to 17 years of age. From 1994 to 2001 the juvenile Property Crime Index arrest rates declined by 41 percent, to a 20-year low. (See Figure 5.7.) Consistent with a 20-year trend, in 2001, Property Crime Index arrest rates were higher for 16-year-olds than any other age group. Adults ages 30 to 49 comprised the only age group to register a higher arrest rate in 2001 than it had in 1980. (See Figure 5.8.)

Between 1992 and 2001, the juvenile arrest rate for burglary declined 40 percent. (See Figure 5.9.) Compared to 1980, when 230,500 juveniles were arrested for burglary, 2001 saw only 90,300 juveniles arrested for the same

TABLE 5.2
Percent of all arrests involving persons under age 18, 1997–2001

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Total crimes 18.6% 17.9% 17.2% 16.9% 16.6%
Violent Crime Index 17.2% 16.6% 16.1% 15.8% 15.4%
Murder/nonnegligent manslaughter 13.6% 11.9% 9.5% 9.3% 10.2%
Forcible rape 17.1% 17.2% 17.0% 16.4% 16.8%
Robbery 29.8% 26.9% 25.4% 25.3% 23.6%
Aggravated assault 14.2% 14.3% 14.2% 13.9% 13.6%
Property Crime Index 34.8% 33.0% 32.3% 32.0% 30.4%
Burglary 36.8% 35.1% 33.5% 33.0% 31.0%
Larceny-theft 33.5% 31.9% 31.4% 31.2% 29.6%
Motor vehicle theft 39.9% 35.9% 35.3% 34.3% 32.7%
Arson 50.0% 52.1% 53.6% 52.8% 49.5%
Nonindex
Other assaults 17.3% 17.8% 18.0% 18.0% 18.2%
Forgery and counterfeiting 7.1% 6.2% 6.4% 5.9% 5.1%
Fraud 2.7% 2.9% 3.5% 3.1% 2.8%
Embezzlement 7.8% 9.1% 9.8% 10.3% 9.1%
Stolen property 25.4% 24.5% 23.5% 23.4% 22.0%
Vandalism 42.9% 42.2% 41.9% 40.6% 38.9%
Weapons 23.9% 23.7% 24.2% 23.6% 22.6%
Prostitution/commercialized vice 1.4% 1.5% 1.4% 1.5% 1.8%
Sex offenses (other) 18.2% 17.0% 17.7% 18.6% 19.7%
Drug abuse violations 13.9% 13.2% 12.7% 12.9% 12.8%
Gambling 16.5% 12.5% 11.9% 14.0% 12.9%
Offenses against family 6.5% 7.0% 6.6% 6.4% 6.7%
Driving under influence 1.3% 1.5% 1.5% 1.4% 1.4%
Liquor laws 24.9% 25.0% 24.2% 23.3% 22.6%
Drunkenness 3.3% 3.5% 3.2% 3.4% 3.3%
Disorderly conduct 26.5% 26.4% 26.9% 25.9% 27.6%
Vagrancy 10.9% 9.6% 7.9% 9.3% 8.2%
All other offenses 12.0% 11.8% 11.4% 11.2% 11.0%
Suspicion 25.3% 25.3% 23.5% 21.1% 31.7%
Curfew and loitering 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Runaways 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Population ages 10 to 17 30,707,300 30,962,500 31,278,200 32,570,500 32,967,900
SOURCE: H. Snyder, C. Puzzanchera, and W. Kang, "Percent of All Arrests Involving Persons under Age 18 in the United States," "Easy Access to FBI Arrest Statistics 1994–2001," in Statistical Briefing Book, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC, 2003 [Online] http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/ezaucr [accessed April 10, 2004]

offense. After remaining relatively constant between 1980 and 1992, by 2001 the juvenile arrest rate for larceny-theft had declined by 21 percent. Females accounted for 39 percent of all juvenile arrests for larceny-theft in 2001. (See Figure 5.10.) Between 1983 and 1990, the juvenile arrest rate for motor vehicle theft rose by 138 percent. Then, between 1990 and 2001, that rate declined by 57 percent, leaving it virtually the same as the 20-year low in 1983. (See Figure 5.11.) After rising by 55 percent from 1987 to 1994, juvenile arson arrests declined by 30 percent between 1994 and 2000. In 2001 the rate increased slightly. (See Figure 5.12.)

Drug Abuse Violations

After remaining within a limited range from 1980 to 1993, the juvenile arrest rate for drug abuse violations rose by 77 percent between 1993 and 1997. By 2001 the rate was down by 16 percent from its 1997 levels but still far above pre-1993 levels. (See Figure 5.13.) Between 1992 and 2001, juvenile arrests for drug abuse violations rose by 121 percent.

Race and Ethnicity

As in adult arrest rates, minorities are disproportionately represented in juvenile arrests. While black youths comprise roughly 15 percent of the total juvenile population, of some 1.5 million juvenile arrests in 2001, 410,668 (26.4 percent) of those arrested were black and 1.1 million (70.9 percent) were white. The overall rate of arrest for black youths between 1980 and 2000 rose by 10 percent, compared to a rise of 6 percent for whites and 2 percent for American Indians during the same time period.

In 1994 Violent Crime Index arrest rates peaked for both black and white juveniles. By 2001, rates declined by 56 percent for black juveniles and 33 percent for white juveniles arrested for violent Crime Index Offenses. The American Indian Violent Crime Index arrest rate peaked in 1995 and fell by 28 percent by 2001. For Asians, the rate peaked in 1996 and fell by 45 percent by 2001. (See Figure 5.14.) In 2001 arrest rates for Property Crime Index offenses were 47 percent below 1980 levels for black juveniles and 40 percent below for white juveniles. Arrests of Asian juveniles for Property Crime Index offenses were less than half the 1980 levels, while American Indians saw a drop of 34 percent. (See Figure 5.15.) In 2001 the rate of arrests of blacks and whites did not show as much disparity for property crimes as for violent

TABLE 5.3
Police disposition of juvenile offenders taken into custody, 2002

Population group Total1 Handled within department and released Referred to juvenile court jurisdiction Referred to welfare agency Referred to other police agency Referred to criminal or adult court
Total agencies: 6,073 agencies; population 130,229,927
Number 732,282 132,825 532,940 4,779 10,183 51,555
Percent2 100.0 18.1 72.8 0.7 1.4 7.0
Total cities: 4,577 cities; population 92,489,061
Number 611,897 115,191 444,336 3,956 7,901 40,513
Percent2 100.0 18.8 72.6 0.6 1.3 6.6
Group I 32 cities, 250,000 and over; population 23,601,703
Number 122,767 24,627 93,612 525 1,638 2,365
Percent2 100.0 20.1 76.3 0.4 1.3 1.9
Group II 88 cities, 100,000 to 249,999; population 13,193,782
Number 81,448 13,344 61,791 636 1,143 4,534
Percent2 100.0 16.4 75.9 0.8 1.4 5.6
Group III 235 cities, 50,000 to 99,999; population 16,120,073
Number 111,816 26,075 78,439 533 1,822 4,947
Percent2 100.0 23.3 70.2 0.5 1.6 4.4
Group IV 405 cities, 25,000 to 49,999; population 14,310,637
Number 94,913 17,183 68,483 1,187 1,769 6,291
Percent2 100.0 18.1 72.2 1.3 1.9 6.6
Group V Number 105,574 18,232 74,556 553 670 11,563
Percent2 100.0 17.3 70.6 0.5 0.6 11.0
Group VI 2,921 cities, under 10,000; population 10,925,901
Number 95,379 15,730 67,455 522 859 10,813
Percent2 100.0 16.5 70.7 0.5 0.9 11.3
Suburban counties 568 agencies; population 25,198,464
Number 86,648 13,068 64,180 478 1,745 7,177
Percent2 100.0 15.1 74.1 0.6 2.0 8.3
Rural counties 928 agencies; population 12,542,402
Number 33,737 4,566 24,424 345 537 3,865
Percent2 100.0 13.5 72.4 1.0 1.6 11.5
Suburban area3 3,286 agencies; population 62,227,924
Number 321,746 60,621 227,447 1,826 3,557 28,295
Percent2 100.0 18.8 70.7 0.6 1.1 8.8
1Includes all offenses except traffic and neglect cases.
2Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.
3Suburban area includes law enforcement agencies in cities with less than 50,000 inhabitants and county law enforcement agencies that are within a Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Suburban area excludes all metropolitan agencies associated with a central city. The agencies associated with suburban areas also appear in other groups within this table.
SOURCE: "Table 68: Police Disposition of Juvenile Offenders Taken into Custody, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003

crimes (1.9 and 3.6, respectively), though still noticeably disproportionate in both categories. Between 1980 and 2001 the juvenile arrest rate for all crimes by race showed a general decline. The total juvenile arrest rate for blacks fell by 5 percent, the rate for whites fell 10 percent, and the rate for Asians fell 19 percent. The total rate for black juveniles peaked in 1995 and fell by 38 percent by 2001. (See Figure 5.16.)

Gender

Although the juvenile arrest rate for all crimes rose for both females and males from 1983 to 1997, the increase for females was 72 percent compared to 30 percent for males. By 2001, the arrest rate for male juveniles was below its 1983 levels, while the rate for females remained 38 percent higher than in 1983. (See Figure 5.17.) By 2001, Juvenile Violent Crime Index arrests had declined from their 1994 peak to a rate for females of 112 arrests per 100,000 persons 10 to 17 years of age, and a rate for males of 471. This violent crime rate for female juveniles of 112 per 100,000 was still 59 percent above where it had stood in 1980 (70 per 100,000), while the rate for males was 20 percent below its 1980 level (587 per 100,000). Despite these shifts, in 2001 the violent crime index arrest rate for juvenile males remained more than four times that for female juveniles. (See Figure FIGURE 5.1
Juvenile arrest rates for Violent Crime Index offenses, 1980–2001
FIGURE 5.3
Juvenile arrest rates for murder, 1980–2001
5.18.) For Property Crime Index offenses, the rate of arrest for female juveniles fell by 26 percent from 1996 to 2001. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of male juveniles arrested for Property Crime offenses decreased by 51 percent. (See Figure 5.19.)

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