Is juvenile crime increasing or decreasing? According to law enforcement statistics, instances of child arrests are on the decline in California and across the country.
What is juvenile crime?
California’s juvenile justice system judges do their best to handle each case in a manner befitting the child and their specific situation. In most circumstances, people under 18 who are accused of crimes go through the juvenile crime system. When considering the appropriate punishments for juvenile crimes, courts review:
- Severity of the incident
- Child’s age
- Prior record
Occasionally, when the crime in question is weightier, people aged 16 and older can be tried as adults. Examples of serious crimes include:
- Murder and attempted murder
- Gun crimes
- Armed robbery
- Drug crimes
- Escaping from a detention facility
Punishments run the spectrum. In less serious cases, minors are typically put on probation and enrolled in rehabilitation and behavioral programs. For more severe crimes, offenders may be placed in a juvenile detention facility.
Juvenile crime trends
Countrywide, juvenile crimes peaked in 1996. That year, law enforcement officers arrested about 8,500 people per 100,000 between 10 and 17 years old. Encouragingly, reports from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which were compiled using data furnished by the FBI, show that the rate has been decreasing ever since. By 2019, arrests involving suspects in the same age demographic had dropped to just over 2,000 for every 100,000, a 75% decline from the mid-1990s.
The decrease in juvenile crime mirrors the nation’s overall drop in crime over the past 30 years. Reasons for the decline are hotly debated, but the end result is a net positive for society.