Juvenile Criminal Offenders-What Happened to the Predicted Crime Waves?

Crime news from Crime in America.Net

Gentlereaders: For those of us who have been in the criminal justice system for several decades or more, we’ve been exposed to a series of criminologists predicting yet another wave of juvenile crime leading to inevitable large increases in national violent crime for years to come.

Trouble is, most simply never happened.

There has been an almost continuous decrease in crime for the last 15 years or more (see data on the front page of this site from the FBI and Department of Justice researchers). In fact, just about every measure of substance abuse, crime in schools and other measures show an almost continuous decrease in offending.

The Department of Justice data on juvenile offenders below is no exception.

But for the non-criminological community, when you tell them this, there is a gasp of disbelief. They watch their evening news and struggle through act after act of man’s inhumanity to man. In some cities crime has increased. But by and large, virtually every measure of crime shows a continuous downward turn for the nation.

There are web sites devoted to America’s increase in crime. There are politicians who will cite examples as to the vast increase in crime. There are those who will state that juvenile crime has simply gotten out of hand.

This is not to state that America does not have a considerable crime problem; it does. And citing numbers to crime victims and citizens living in high crime areas ignores their reality.

But when the counting is done, the numbers are moving in the direction we want them to move, and for that we should be thankful. For those who lived and worked through the skyrocketing crime numbers of the 1960’s and 1970’s, we have an appreciation for the current data.

Latest date from the Department of Justice on juvenile crime:

In 2008, law enforcement agencies in the United States made an estimated 2.11 million arrests of persons younger than age 18.* Overall, there were 3% fewer juvenile arrests in 2008 than in 2007, and juvenile violent crime arrests fell 2%, continuing a recent decline. Juvenile arrest rates, particularly Violent Crime Index rates, had increased in 2005 and again in 2006 amid fears that the Nation was on the brink of another juvenile crime wave. These latest data show increases in some offense categories but declines in most—with most changes being less than 10% in either direction.

  • Juveniles accounted for 16% of all violent crime arrests and 26% of all property crime arrests in 2008.
  • Juveniles were involved in 12% of all violent crimes cleared in 2008 and 18% of property crimes cleared.
  • In 2008, 11% (1,740) of all murder victims were younger than age 18. More than one-third (38%) of all juvenile murder victims were younger than age 5, but this proportion varied widely across demographic groups.
  • The juvenile murder arrest rate in 2008 was 3.8 arrests per 100,000 juveniles ages 10 through 17. This was 17% more than the 2004 low of 3.3, but 74% less than the 1993 peak of 14.4.
  • Between 1999 and 2008, juvenile arrests for aggravated assault decreased more for males than for females (22% vs. 17%). During this period, juvenile male arrests for simple assault declined 6% and female arrests increased 12%.
  • The 2008 arrest rates for Violent Crime Index offenses were substantially lower than the rates in the 1994 peak year for every age group younger than 40.


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