This summary of the characteristics of delinquency cases processed in U.S. juvenile courts in 2015 addresses trends in the number of cases processed from 1960 through 2015, demographic characteristics of processed youth, prevalent offenses involved, the most common disposition, and detention trends from 2005 through 2015.
The number of delinquency cases processed in U.S. juvenile courts peaked in 1997 at approximately 1, 800,000 and then had a 53-percent decline through 2015. For 2015, males accounted for just over 70 percent of the delinquency caseload. Most were ages 15-17. Most were white (43 percent), followed by Black (36 percent), Hispanic (19 percent), and other (3 percent). Just over one-third of delinquency cases in 2015 involved simple assault or larceny-theft offenses. Probation was the most common disposition for adjudicated delinquency cases. Person offenses were consistently more likely than other types of offenses to involve detention from 2005 through 2015, ranging from approximately 28 percent of detentions in 2005 to 30 percent in 2015. Trends in detention offenses are also reported for public-order offenses, delinquency offenses, drug offenses, and property offenses for this period. 5 figures and resource listing