In 1996, Missouri's youth population under age 18 was approximately 1,394,200 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Of the State's children, approximately 8 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 25 percent of Missouri's children 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).
Missouri ranked 29th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was 33 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 32 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
Missouri has 45 Judicial Circuit Juvenile Divisions encompassing 115 counties. Each of these circuits has a juvenile court judge who is appointed by the circuit court and a juvenile officer who is appointed by the juvenile court (Missouri Department of Public Safety 1998).
The Division of Youth Services is responsible for providing treatment options for juvenile offenders within the State's juvenile justice system. This includes prevention, community-based programs, and residential options. Further, as of April 1999, the Division will be operating seven highly structured, secure care programs (Missouri Department of Public Safety 1998).
The Formula Grants Program for the State is housed within the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
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 Missouri:
Approach to Female Offenders
The specific objectives of Missouri's efforts to address the needs of female juvenile offenders have remained consistent since 1995. They include the following initiatives:
In April 1997, as part of a statewide conference on the issue, Missouri also released a report containing the findings of its research effort. The report is titled Gender and Juvenile Justice in Missouri. It contains detailed information on both delinquent and status offending patterns for young women in the State and results from a perceptions survey conducted on juvenile and family court personnel and staff from residential placements (Kempf-Leonard 1997, p. 2). Information on obtaining this report can be found in Appendix B, Available State Products.
In June 1998, as part of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association's Gender Services Challenge Grant, a statewide gender conference entitled "Girls are Unique" was conducted. Two hundred people from throughout the State representing various agencies, organizations, schools, and city and county circuits attended the two-day conference. The agenda addressed the issue of improving the quality of treatment for young women in Missouri. The goals for participants of the conference included the following:
Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.
Kempf-Leonard, Kimberly. 1997. Gender and Juvenile Justice in Missouri. Department of Public Safety, Jefferson City, MO.
Missouri Department of Public Safety. 1995. Missouri 1995 Challenge Activity E Grant Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Missouri Department of Public Safety. 1998. The State of Juvenile Justice, Issues and Priorities for Missouri's Juvenile Justice System 1998-2000. Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Missouri Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, Jefferson City, MO.
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.