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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1998 AT 10:00 A.M.202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The juvenile arrest rate for violent crime fell by 23 percent from 1994 to 1997, according to a new Justice Department bulletin released today. The juvenile arrest rate for each Violent Crime Index offense fell in recent years, including a drop of more than 40 percent in the juvenile murder arrest rate between 1993 and 1997.

"While no one is claiming victory, we are clearly moving in the right direction," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Through efforts such as community policing, mentoring and holding youth accountable for every offense, we are making a difference."

Juvenile Arrests 1997, which was issued by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), analyzes data from the FBI's 1997 Uniform Crime Reports. The juvenile arrest rate is defined by the number of arrests per 100,000 juveniles age 10 through 17.

The bulletin showed other drops in juvenile arrest rates:

The bulletin also shows a growth in the violent crime arrest rates for females. Between 1987 and 1994, the increase in the violent crime arrest rate was far greater for females than males (111 percent vs. 63 percent), and the decline from 1994 to 1997 was less for females (12 percent vs. 23 percent).

In addition, the bulletin shows that changes in the volume of violent juvenile crime arrests are not related to changes in the juvenile population. Both increases and decreases in the number of juvenile arrests over the last 25 years did not correspond to juvenile population trends. For example, from 1994 to 1997, while the population grew steadily at a rate of approximately one percent per year, the number of juvenile arrests for violent crimes dropped significantly.

OJJDP released the bulletin at its national conference today in Washington, which is bringing together more than 1,600 criminal and juvenile justice practitioners, government leaders and researchers from across the country.

OJJDP also released two publications that examine state laws targeting serious and violent juvenile crime. State Legislative Responses to Violent Juvenile Crime: 1996-7 analyzes recent changes to states made in laws targeting juveniles. Eleven state legislatures enacted laws that provide for alternatives to traditional incarceration. These newly authorized projects attempt to reduce the burden on state-run, juvenile correctional facilities. In addition, many states are moving toward "blended sentencing," which allows judges to impose juvenile sanctions, adult sanctions, or a combination of both.

"State and local governments are willing to experiment to develop a juvenile justice system that takes into account the security requirements of communities and the individual treatment needs of the youth," said OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. "My hope is that more states and communities will follow suit."

Youth who are accused of committing a crime or other violation are generally placed in a juvenile justice system, which has certain restrictions on sentencing and information sharing with the goal of reintegrating the youth back into the community. In some cases, juveniles may be transferred to a criminal justice system, which handles mostly adults and does not have the same restrictions of the juvenile justice system.

The bulletin is an update to the July 1996 OJJDP report State Responses to Serious and Violent Juvenile Crime, which surveyed state laws enacted from 1992 to 1995. Many of the trends described in the original report continued into 1996 and 1997, including:

Trying Juveniles as Adults in Criminal Court: An Analysis of State Transfer Provisions offers state-by-state descriptions of mechanisms used to transfer juveniles to criminal court as well as the age and offense criteria for each mechanism.

The publications were prepared by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the research division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, supported by a cooperative agreement with OJJDP.

All of these publications and information about other OJJDP publications, programs and conferences is available through the OJJDP Web site at and from OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 1-800/638-8736.

Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at Media should contact OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.

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OJJDP 99023

After hours contact: Adam Spector, 202/516-6843