Juvenile arrests are arrests made of persons under the age of eighteen. In the year 2008, about 2.11 million arrests were made of persons under the age of eighteen; this recorded a 3% decline in the number of juvenile arrests compared to the year 2007 (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). Violent crimes by juveniles also decreased by 2% between the year 2007 and 2008. Juveniles have also to be known to engage in drug-related crimes and the drug offenses among the juveniles have been on an increase (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). Between the year 1990 and the year 1997, there was a 145% increase in drug-related juvenile arrests. A 28% decline was recorded between 1997 and 2008, but the rate of juvenile arrests in 2008 was more than that of 1990 by 78%. Arrests have also been made for simple assaults that are committed by juveniles. The rate of simple assaults has been on the rise between the year 1980 and the year 2008. Between the year 1980 and 2008, the male arrests almost doubled and the rate of simple assaults among the females tripled in this period.
Gender differences in juvenile arrests have also increased. The proportion of female juveniles that have been arrested has been on the rise. Between 1999 and 2008, there was a general increase in the number of female juveniles arrested for theft. The proportion of females arrested for theft increased by 4% while that of men reduced by 29%. In property Crime, the number of offenses committed by female juveniles was more than those committed by male juveniles. This shows that the rate of crime among female juveniles is generally on the rise compared to their male counterparts. In the year 2008, 629800 arrests of female juveniles were made; the rate of offenses in all criminal offenses declined less for women as compared to men (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009).
In the US, of the total juvenile arrests made in 2008, 78% of them involved whites, 16% were African Americans, 5% Asian and 1% American Indian. In the violent crime index arrest rates in 2008, the rate of arrests for black juveniles was about 5 times the rate of white juveniles, six times the rate of American Indian juveniles and about thirteen times the rate of Asian juveniles. In property crime index arrests, the black juveniles also had more arrests than the other ethnic groups. The rate of arrests for the black juveniles was double that of the white juveniles and about six times the rate of arrest for Asian juveniles.
Female juveniles are also known to be involved in violent crimes. In the year 2008, 30% of the total violent crimes were committed by juveniles. Of this 30%, 17% of the violent crimes were made by juvenile females compared to the 13% made by male juveniles (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). Female juveniles were found to engage more in aggravated assaults with 24% of the total crimes against 6% of the aggravated assaults committed by male juveniles.
The arrest statistics are used to show the trends of juvenile involvement in crime. These arrest statistics show the number of arrests made by law enforcement agencies in the particular year (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). They do not exactly show the number of juveniles arrested, or the number of crimes committed. The number of arrests used in the arrest statistics is not the same as the number of people arrested or the number of crimes that were committed in the year; this is because some people are arrested more than once in a year (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). The arrest statistics do not also show the counts of crime committed by the arrested juveniles because a series of crimes committed by one person may recur in one arrest. One crime may also lead to the arrest of more than one person. The grouping of the crimes in terms of the number of juveniles is also not well reflected in these statistics (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). It is more likely for juveniles to commit crime in groups than adults. It is for this reason that the arrest statistics should not be used to show the relative proportions of crime that are caused by adults and those caused by juveniles. The arrest statistics of the juveniles are more suitable for use as a measure of flow in the justice system other than as a measure of amount and trends of juvenile crime.
Arrest statistics of juveniles have some limitations in the measure of the amount and trends of juvenile trends. The FBI normally requires law enforcement agencies to classify crimes according to the severity of the crime (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). When a youth is charged with two offenses at the same time, the statistics could only record the more severe crime and this makes the results quite unreliable when it comes to measure of the amount of crime committed by the juveniles. A good example is that when there are an estimated 40000 arrests for juveniles for a weapons violation, it only means that weapons violation was the most serious crime committed by the juveniles. There are other charges that were parallel to this crime (Charles Puzzanchera, 2009). Even though the data on these crimes committed by the juveniles does not really represent the true picture of the trends and amounts of crime, the statistics are the best measure available of the crime recorded by law enforcements agencies that is connected to persons under the age of 18.
- Puzzanchera, C. (2009). Juvenile Arrests 2008. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.