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Juveniles in Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2003
32 pages
Publication Series

This bulletin, part of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) National Report Series, summarizes the latest (1998) national statistics pertinent to how courts with juvenile jurisdiction process cases.


The bulletin's format is to present summary statements regarding juvenile case processing, followed by detailed information and statistics that elaborate upon the summary statement. First, the Bulletin states that most juvenile law violators enter the juvenile justice system through law enforcement agencies, with police agencies often diverting juvenile offenders out of the formal justice system. The second summary statement is that State laws define who is under juvenile court jurisdiction. This involves setting age limits for original jurisdiction of the juvenile court and the authorizing of juvenile-court authority over youth beyond the upper age of original jurisdiction. The third summary statement is that all States allow juveniles to be tried as adults in criminal court under certain circumstances. Legislatures transfer large numbers of juveniles to criminal court by enacting statutes that exclude certain cases from juvenile court jurisdiction. Some States also allow for a "reverse waiver," in that criminal courts can send transferred cases to juvenile court for adjudication under certain circumstances. The fourth summary statement is that the Juvenile Court Statistics series details the activities of U.S. juvenile courts. This summary statement is followed by a review of the history of the series and what the statistics cover. The fifth summary statement is that juvenile courts handled 1.8 million delinquency cases in 1998, about the same as in 1997. Tables, figures, and explanatory comments provide the details. Other summary statements with accompanying statistics and information are as follows: delinquency caseloads for both males and females have increased sharply in recent years; Black juveniles were referred to juvenile court at a rate more than double that for white juveniles; all age groups contributed to delinquency caseload increases between 1989 and 1998; most delinquency cases have not involved detention between referral to court and disposition; formal case handling was more likely in 1998 than in 1989, and more cases were adjudicated; most adjudicated delinquency cases in 1998 resulted in residential placement or formal probation; the processing of delinquency cases varied more by offense than by gender; the juvenile court's use of judicial waiver has changed over the past decade; convicted transfers did not always receive harsher sanctions than adults received; those who begin offending as young children are more likely to become violent offenders; and the formal status offense caseload differs substantially from the delinquency caseload. 12 references

Date Published: June 1, 2003