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Drug Offense Cases in Juvenile Courts, 1989-1998

NCJ Number
Anne L. Stahl
Date Published
September 2001
2 pages
This document provides statistics on drug offense cases in juvenile courts from 1989 to 1998 in the United States.
Drug abuse violations was the criminal offense category with the highest arrest rate in 1999. Drug abuse violations include offenses relating to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing, and manufacturing of narcotic and non-narcotic drugs. In 1999, an estimated 1,557,100 arrests were made in which the most serious offense was a drug abuse violation. Persons younger than 18 years old accounted for 13 percent of these arrests. The number of juvenile court cases involving drug offenses more than doubled between 1993 and 1998. In 1998, juvenile courts handled an estimated 192,500 delinquency cases in which a drug offense was the most serious charge. The proportion of drug violation cases involving white youth declined from 1989 to 1991, and then steadily increased to 68 percent in 1998. For cases involving Black juveniles, this pattern was reversed. The proportion increased from 1989 to 1991, then steadily decreased to 29 percent in 1998. Since 1990, the proportion of drug cases involving detention has dropped steadily. Between 1994 and 1998 the formally processed drug caseload increased more than 50 percent. Although juvenile courts handled a slightly higher percentage of drug offense cases formally in 1998 than in 1994, the number of formally handled drug cases increased more than 50 percent. The majority of formally processed drug cases resulted in the juvenile being adjudicated delinquent, and in 23 percent of these cases, the most severe disposition was residential placement.

Date Published: September 1, 2001