State Legislative Responses to Violent Juvenile Crime: 1996-97 Update

Patricia Torbet and Linda Szymanski

coverExtensive media coverage of violent crimes by juveniles -- especially homicides with firearms -- fueled perceptions of a juvenile crime epidemic in the early 1990's. This, in turn, led to a response by governors and legislators to "get tough" on juvenile crime. While there is good news to report -- 1996 was the second year in a row that the juvenile violent crime arrest rate declined -- violence by juveniles is still too prevalent and remains an issue of great concern for the public, legislators, governors, and juvenile and criminal justice practitioners. This Bulletin presents findings from an analysis of laws enacted in 1996 and 1997 to target serious and violent juvenile crime. Highlights of this analysis include the following:
bullet Jurisdictional Authority: States continue to modify age/offense transfer criteria; some are beginning to study the impact of new transfer laws.
bullet Judicial Disposition/Sentencing Authority: States continue to experiment with blended and other sentencing options, while changes in purpose clauses impact juvenile court dispositions.
bullet Corrections Programming: States supplement continued emphasis onsecure corrections programming withcommunity-based interventions that stress public safety and offender accountability.
bullet Confidentiality: States continue to deemphasize traditional confidentiality concerns while emphasizing information sharing.
bullet Juvenile Crime Victims: Victims and victims organizations increase visibility and active participation in the juvenile justice process.

State Legislative Responses to Violent Juvenile Crime: 1996-97 Update Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  November 1998