In 1996, Delaware's youth population under age 18 was approximately 176,000 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Of the State's children, approximately 5 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 21 percent of Delaware's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).
Delaware ranked 34th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 39 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 33 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).
During the 1993-94 school year, 150 students were expelled from public school (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, p. ii). Of this figure, African-American students constituted 53 percent (79 students) of those expelled while representing only 28 percent of the school population. Anglo students comprised 67 percent of the school population while representing only 22 percent (33 students) of the expulsions (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, p. 27). Students were most often expelled for the possession or concealment of a weapon on school property (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, p. 26).
Also during the 1993-94 school year, there were 10,159 suspensions from public school. Of this total, 30 percent (3,096 students) were young women while 70 percent (7,063 students) were young men. Of the young women suspended, 18 percent were African-American, 11 percent were Anglo, and 1 percent were Hispanic (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, p. 25).
In the 1993-94 school year, the dropout rate for Delaware's schools was 5 percent, and students ages 16-17 constituted the largest percentage of students dropping out. Young women represented 47 percent of the dropouts for 1993-94, which was up from 44 percent in 1992-93 (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, pp. 27-28).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
The State of Delaware has a unified statewide court system to deal with juvenile delinquency cases. This court has a maximum of 13 judges with equal judicial authority. However, one is appointed to serve as Chief Judge. Judges are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate for 12-year terms. Besides judges, Delaware uses masters to hear civil cases involving child custody and adoption among other civil issues and commissioners to hear criminal matters (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, pp. 38-39).
The Formula Grants Program is housed within the Executive Department of the Criminal Justice Council. There is also a Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, part of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, which is charged with providing treatment services to juvenile offenders. This is accomplished through Delaware's two detention centers and a range of nonsecure detention alternatives (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1996, p. 37).
Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders
The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Delaware:
Table 7. Delaware Top Five Anglo Female Offenses, 1991
Table 8. Delaware Top Five African-American Female Offenses, 1991
Approach to Female Offenders
Through a study conducted in 1995, Delaware's Criminal Justice Council became aware that young women in the State's juvenile justice system who were in out-of-home placement under the custody of the State did not have access to an independent living training program when they returned to the community. This service was also not available for young women placed out of State once they returned to Delaware.
As a result, the State requested Challenge Activity E funds to establish an intensive aftercare program entitled Supervised Independent Living Program. The program is designed to serve young women ages 16-18 who need assistance with establishing an independent living environment once they have been returned to the State from out-of-State placements or have been released from the State's residential treatment centers.
The program, People Place II, Inc., provides a temporary apartment environment, 24-hour onsite supervision and assistance, and intensive educational support, such as General Educational Development (GED) preparation, job, and computer skill development (Delaware Criminal Justice Council 1995, p. 1).
Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.
Delaware Criminal Justice Council. 1994. Delaware 1994 JJDP Act Formula Grant Application, 1994-1996. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Delaware Criminal Justice Council. 1995. Delaware 1995 Challenge Activity E Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Delaware Criminal Justice Council. 1996. Delaware 1996 Application for JJDP Formula Grant Funds. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Kids Count Fact Book. 1995. Kids Count in Delaware, Newark, DE.
Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.