Number of Confined Juveniles Drops 12 Percent Nationwide

OAKLAND, Calif. — The number of juveniles in U.S. custody decreased by 12 percent from 1997 to 2006, according to a study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In 2006, 92,854 juvenile offenders were in residential custody, down from 105,055 in 1997, according to the study. The decline includes a 6 percent drop in the number of juvenile offenders in detention and a 14 percent decrease in the number of wards in post-adjudication placements.

The number of male wards in placement decreased 13 percent during the 10-year period, while the number of female wards in decreased 2 percent, according to the report.

Using data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the report tracked custody and arrest trends by state, gender, race/ethnicity and offense.

The juvenile arrest rate declined nearly 28 percent during the study period, decreasing from 9,198 per 100,000 in 1997 to 6,632 per 100,000 in 2006, the report states
Arrest types included violent crimes, down 28 percent, and property crimes, down 47 percent, according to the study.

Despite the decrease in national juvenile custody rates, more juveniles were confined for less serious offenses, including technical violations, drugs and status offenses.

Officials attribute the overall decline in juvenile custody to shorter sentences and more stringent efforts by state and local governments to change juvenile confinement policies, such as alternatives to institutional placement and juvenile re-entry programs.

States with the largest decreases included California (33 percent), Louisiana (49 percent), Georgia (40 percent) and Mississippi (39 percent).

New Mexico, Washington and Tennessee also reported a 38 decrease in the number of juvenile offenders in confinement from 1997 to 2006.

A handful of states saw a significant increase during the 10-year period, including Idaho (108 percent), West Virginia (62 percent) and Arkansas (36 percent).

The number of juveniles confined to adult jails and prisons declined by 38 percent from 13,652 in 1999 to 8,494 in 2006, according to the study. Juveniles transferred to the adult system are not included in calculations of the juvenile custody rate.