Chapter 1: Major Accomplishments in
1996 and 1997
This is a critical time for juvenile justice -- a time of both opportunity and challenge. In 1996, for the second year in a row, the total number of juvenile arrests for Violent Crime Index offenses (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) declined. The number of violent juvenile arrests dropped 3 percent in 1995 and 6 percent in 1996. More specifically, juvenile arrest rates for murder declined 14 percent between 1995 and 1996. While juvenile arrests for murder in 1996 were at their lowest level in the 1990's, the decrease must be kept in perspective since the total for 1997 was still 50 percent above the number of juvenile arrests for murder in 1987. The Nation continues to face unacceptably high rates of juvenile crime, with juveniles accounting for 18 percent, or 2.7 million, of all arrests. In addition, serious and violent juvenile offenders, although relatively few in number, remain a troubling concern.
Although the decline in the arrest rate signals hope for the future, there is still much work to be done. The accomplishments highlighted in this chapter illustrate OJJDP's commitment to provide national leadership to help States and communities develop policies and programs that will ensure a continuing decline in the juvenile crime rate.
The Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders was at the center of the Office's many accomplishments during the past 2 years. It reflects OJJDP's commitment to programs that have the greatest potential for reducing juvenile delinquency and improving the juvenile justice system. The Comprehensive Strategy and several of the other activities described in this chapter create the partnerships that OJJDP believes are necessary to turn the tide of juvenile delinquency.
In addition to implementing the Comprehensive Strategy, the Office also worked diligently during the past 2 years to provide mentors for troubled youth, help strengthen families, improve how courts respond to abused and neglected children, and eliminate hate crimes. Sharing information with practitioners in the field was also a priority during 1996 and 1997; dissemination activities are highlighted in chapter 2.