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Juvenile Delinquency Probation Caseload, 1985-1994

NCJ Number
Melissa Sickmund Ph.D.
Date Published
March 1997
2 pages
Data on the nationwide juvenile delinquency probation caseload for 1985-94 address the prevalence of probation as a disposition for juveniles, demographic characteristics of juvenile probationers, whether probation was voluntary or court-ordered, and the offenses that were involved.
In 1994 juvenile courts handled 1.6 million delinquency cases, and probation supervision was the most severe disposition in nearly 539,000 of these cases. The number of cases placed on probation increased 32 percent between 1985 and 1994. In the same period, the overall delinquency caseload increased 41 percent. In 1994 the proportion of cases placed on probation that involved white youth was 68 percent (down from 73 percent in 1985), and the Black proportion was 29 percent (up from 25 percent); the proportion of youth of other races was 3 percent (virtually unchanged). The probation caseload essentially mirrored the overall delinquency caseload in its demographic profile and trends. As with the delinquency caseload overall, the majority of cases placed on probation involved males (about 80 percent). The female proportion of the probation caseload had not changed much over the 10-year period, from 18 percent in 1985 to 21 percent in 1994. In 1994 adjudicated delinquents ordered to probation accounted for nearly half of all delinquency cases placed on probation (nearly 265,000 cases). In the remaining half of delinquency cases, the youth agreed to some form of voluntary, or informal probation. The number of cases that resulted in a formal order of probation increased 41 percent from 1985 through 1994. Informal probations increased 15 percent, reflecting the general trend over the period toward more formal processing of delinquency cases. The offense profile of the probation caseload had changed somewhat since 1985. Cases that involved property offenses as the most serious offense continued to account for the majority of cases placed on formal or informal probation; however, the proportion of person-offense cases had increased somewhat. 1 figure and 3 tables

Date Published: March 1, 1997