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Juvenile Crime

Essay by   •  March 18, 2011  •  390 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,052 Views

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n the justice system, juvenile crime defines any illegal act committed by a person under the age of 18. While the laws are the same for juveniles as they are for adults, the penalties are often less severe. Still, controversy surrounds the methods of punishing juvenile offenders, as juvenile crime rates and the severity of juvenile crimes continually fluctuate.

According to Violent Crime Index arrest rates, the peak year for juvenile violent crime arrests was 1994. The Violent Crime Index includes the offenses of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. In the years between 1980 and 1994, arrest rates for youth ages 15 to 17 increased an average of 62 percent. In the decade since 1994, the rates have dropped significantly.

The most recent statistics show that 2.3 million juveniles were arrested in 2001. Of these, 28 percent were female and 32 percent were under the age of 15. The greatest number of these arrests involved property crime, a group of offenses that includes burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. In 2001, juveniles accounted for nearly one quarter of all persons arrested for robbery.

There has been great debate over the penalties for juvenile offenders. In the past few years, school shootings have shaken the nation, raising the question of how to punish violent juveniles. Although current, the latest juvenile crime statistics don''t reflect the seriousness of the most publicized cases of juvenile violence, such as the Columbine High School shooting and subsequent school attacks, and the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, the teenage member of the pair of Washington D.C. snipers, who was recently sentenced to life in prison. While the statistics on violent crime appear to be down, the existing cases are extreme.

The debate over whether violent juvenile offenders should be tried as adults is reopened each time a violent crime



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