America's youth are facing an everchanging set of problems and barriers to successful lives. As a result, we are constantly challenged to develop enlightened policies and programs to address the needs and risks of those youth who enter our juvenile justice system. The policies and programs we create must be based on facts, not fears. Too often, the facts are unknown or not readily available. This Report is designed to remedy, at least in part, that information gap.
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report draws on reliable data and relevant research to provide a comprehensive and insightful view of juvenile crime across the nation. The Report offers Congress, state legislators and other state and local policymakers, professors and teachers, juvenile justice professionals, and concerned citizens empirically based answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of juvenile crime and victimization and about the justice system's response.
Citing FBI and other data sources, the Report demonstrates that the rate of juvenile violent crime arrests has consistently decreased since 1994, falling to a level not seen since at least the 1970s. However, during this period of overall decline in juvenile violence, the female proportion of juvenile violent crime arrests has increased (especially for the crime of assault), marking an important change in the types of youth entering the juvenile justice system and in their programming needs. The Report also describes when and where juvenile violent crime occurs, focusing attention on the critical afterschool hours.
Statistics presented throughout the Report find that racial disparity in the juvenile justice system is declining. For example, the black juvenile violent crime arrest rate in the late 1980s was six times the white rate-by 2003, it had fallen to four times the white rate. During the same period, the black juvenile arrest rate for drug abuse violations fell from five times to less than double the white rate.
The Report also presents new findings from OJJDP's national Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement. The daily number of committed youth held in public and private facilities increased 28% between 1991 and 2003, with the increase far greater in private than in public facilities. However, after peaking in 1999, the number of youth in custody began to fall-for the first time in a generation.
In sum, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report offers a clear view of juvenile crime and the justice system's response at the beginning of the 21st century. It is an indispensable resource for informed professionals who strive to shape the juvenile justice system today.