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8 Minute AM Show. Alex R. Piquero, PhD. The growth and decline in violent crime by juveniles between 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests. Juvenile Violent Crime Trend. Interpretation.

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8 Minute AM Show

Alex R. Piquero, PhD


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The growth and decline in violent crime by juveniles between 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Juvenile Violent Crime Trend 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Interpretation 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • There have been some reports of an increase in violence over the past two years; too early to tell if this is a trend.

  • The juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest rate increased 5% between 2004-2005. This increase follows a year in which the rate had reached an historically low level.

  • To place the magnitude of this growth in perspective, if the rate continued to increase annually by the same amount, it would be nearly 20 years before it once again reached its peak level in 1994.

  • In 2005, there were 283 arrests for Violent Crime index offenses for every 100,000 youth between 10 and 17 years of age. If each of these arrests involved a different juvenile (which is unlikely), then no more than 1 in every 350 persons ages 10-17 was arrested for a Violent Crime Index offense in 2005, or about one-third of 1% of all juveniles ages 10 to 17 living in the U.S.


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Juvenile Property Crime Trend 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Interpretation 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • In 2005, for every 100,000 youth in the U.S. ages 10-17, there were 1,246 arrests of juveniles for Property Crime Index offenses.

  • The relatively stable juvenile arrest rate trend between 1980 and the mid-1990s for Property Crime Index offenses stands in stark contrast to the Violent Crime Index arrest rate trend.

  • The juvenile arrest rate for Property Crime Index offenses in 2005 was half of what it was in 1980, down 51% over the period.


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Transfer & Waiver 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • Definition: Transfer (also referred to as waiver) denotes the waiver of authority by the juvenile court that allows for transfer of a juvenile defendant to an adult criminal court.


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What Do We Know? 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • Transferring juveniles to the adult system generally increases – rather than decreases – rates of subsequent violent offending among transferred youth compared to youth retained in the juvenile justice system. (Other negative outcomes have been reported, such as worsened mental health problems).

  • Evidence is insufficient to determine the effect of such laws and policies in reducing violence in the overall juvenile population.


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Conclusions 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • As a means of reducing juvenile violence, strengthened juvenile transfer policies are counterproductive.

  • Recommend against laws or policies that facilitate the transfer of juveniles from the juvenile to the adult judicial system for the purpose of reducing violence.


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What do we know about groups & gangs 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • Adolescents congregate in groups, whether or not they are in gangs, so attempts to distinguish between more versus less risky youth (ie., between those who do and do not need to be transferred) merely on the basis of whether they were in a group when a crime was committed is neither practical or prudent.

  • Adolescence is a group-oriented time period and knowledge of committing a crime within a group is not a signal about later careers in crime. In fact, most group crime declines over time.


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Continued 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • Most offenses during the juvenile years are committed in groups (not gangs) of largely, unstructured kids.

  • Large gangs are comparatively unusual with respect to crime commission, especially for serious offenses.

  • The likelihood of committing offenses with others decreases steadily with age (most crimes before 18 are committed with others, whereas after age 18 they tend to be committed alone).

  • Some evidence to suggest that joining a gang, independent of individual characteristics (measured or unmeasured) escalates/increases criminal activity, while an exit from a gang leads to de-escalation/decreases in criminal activity.


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Co-Offending & Age - CSDD 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Public Attitudes 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • We investigate public willingness to pay for rehabilitation and punishment of juvenile offenders.

  • WTP is the amount an individual is willing to pay to acquire some good, service, or social outcome.

  • We asked respondents about their willingness to pay for a rehabilitation-oriented program involving services for detained youth versus a further punitive-oriented program which would involve a longer jail sentence.

  • Respondents were asked if they would be willing to pay an additional $100 in taxes for a change in the law (if yes, it was doubled, if no, it was halved).


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Our Study 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • Random sample of PA households (N=1,503) collected between March-August 2005

  • 86.7% White

  • 50% report income > $50,000

  • 50% report some college experience and above

  • 59.7% Female

  • Average Age 50.18 (range 18-94)

  • Demographics closely match PA census


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Percent of Respondents 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrestsWilling to Pay


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Average Willingness To Pay 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Cost/Benefit Calculations 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests


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Summary of Key Findings 1980-2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests

  • The typical household would be willing to pay about $98 for rehabilitation per year for programs that reduced specific crimes by 30% in their communities.

  • This amount was more than they would be willing to pay for punishment ($80).

  • The public is willing to pay as much as or more for crime reduction via rehabilitation compared to punishment.

  • Both prevention and treatment within the juvenile justice system are cost-effective.


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