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Enabling Prosecutors to Address Drug, Gang, and Youth Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
12 pages
This bulletin, one in a series featuring Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants Program best practices, offers data on recent trends in juvenile violence, juvenile drug offenses, and gang-related juvenile offending and describes prosecutorial responses to such offenses.
While overall violent crime decreased between 1985 and 1994, the number of juveniles arrested for serious crimes increased. During the same time period, juvenile courts experienced disproportionate increases in cases involving violent offenses and weapons. Although statistics from 1995 to 1997 indicate a reversal of the disturbing upward trend in juvenile violence between 1985 and 1994, juvenile violent crime arrest rates in 1997 were still well above the 1985 level. The increase in juvenile violence, drug-related crime, and gang-related crime requires specific prosecutorial responses, including the use of graduated sanctions and the transfer of the most serious and violent juvenile offenders to criminal court. Examples of promising, prosecutor-led programs focused on curtailing the use of guns, violence, drugs, and gangs are provided that represent a range of ideas prosecutors can use to enhance their own efforts. The authors conclude that prosecutors play a significant role in reducing and preventing juvenile involvement with drugs and related criminal activities, juvenile involvement with criminal gangs, and youth violence overall. 53 references

Date Published: December 1, 1999