Violent Youth Crime Plummets to a 30-year Low

Violent crime arrests involving under-18 youth dropped considerably since 2008. The violent youth  arrest rate peaked in 1994, before falling through 2004. Violent arrests began to grow after 2004, however, reaching a rate of nearly 300 per 100,000 10-17 year-olds between 2006 and 2008. Between 2008 and 2011, the violent youth arrest rate fell sharply once again, plunging from approximately 300 to 200 arrests per 100,000 youth. In 2011, the violent crime arrest rate was 30 percent lower than it had been just three years earlier in 2008.

As Serious Juvenile Crime Declined, Police Made More Arrests for Less Serious Offenses

Taken together, arrests for the eight serious offenses included in the FBI Crime Index decreased nearly 50 percent between 1995 and 2010. Arrests for some of the most common, less serious offenses, however, increased substantially from 1985 through 2005, and they remained at higher levels in 2010 when compared with the early 1980s.

The U.S. Juvenile Justice Policy Landscape

The diverse mix of policies and practices introduced in recent years raises important questions about the posture of juvenile justice today. Most scholars agree that decades of “get-tough” reforms diminished the influence of the juvenile court. Many contend that these changes rendered the criminal (adult) and juvenile justice systems largely indistinguishable. Others question these claims and suggest that rehabilitation remains a critical goal for juvenile justice professionals.