Data on delinquency cases in U.S. juvenile courts in 2007 and trend analysis for 1985-2007 pertain to the number of cases; involved juveniles' gender, race, and age; and the processing variables of detention, intake decision, waiver to criminal court, adjudication, and disposition.
The number of delinquency cases handled in U.S. juvenile courts remained virtually unchanged from 2000 through 2007. An estimated 1.7 million delinquency cases were processed in juvenile courts nationwide in 2007. The two decades since 1985, however, have shown a pattern of increase followed by decline and then leveling, resulting from trends in various offense categories combined. Females have remained a relatively small proportion of the delinquency caseload nationwide, with the proportion increasing from 19 percent in 1985 to 27 percent in 2007. The racial disparity in delinquency cases varied across offense categories. Regarding age, in 2007 juveniles younger than age 16 at the time of referral to court accounted for 54 percent of cases. The likelihood of detention varied by general offense category; in 2007, person offense cases were the most likely to involve detention (28 percent). In 2007, 313,200 cases (19 percent of all delinquency cases) were dismissed at intake, generally for lack of evidence. In 2007, juvenile court judges waived jurisdiction over an estimated 8,500 delinquency cases, sending them to criminal court; this is less than 0.5 percent of all delinquency cases processed. For many years, property offense cases accounted for the largest proportion of waived cases; however, since the mid-1990s, person offenses have outnumbered property offenses among waived cases. In 2007, juveniles were adjudicated delinquent in 63 percent of petitioned cases, a 74-percent increase from 1985. Many cases resulted in multifaceted dispositions, with most involving some type of probation supervision. 5 tables and 3 figures
Date Published: June 1, 2010