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  Chapter Twelve:

  Capital Punishment
  Offenses of Prisoners
  Juvenile Offenders



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Juvenile Offenders

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Juveniles became more heavily involved in serious crime during the second half of the century.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation tracks four major violent “index crimes”: murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The FBI also tracks serious property crimes, which comprise burglary, larceny, and auto theft. (Arson is also an index crime, but its frequency is so low compared with the others that it is omitted from many analyses.) 

In 1947, the first year for which reliable figures on juvenile participation in serious crime were available, 4 percent of the people arrested for violent crimes and 13 percent of those arrested for property crimes were under the age of eighteen. Assault and larceny were the most common juvenile offenses. 

It is impossible to determine whether the 1947 figures represented an increase or decrease from earlier years, but the enormous rise in juvenile criminality that occurred during the subsequent two decades is unmistakable. By 1968, the juvenile share of arrests had climbed to 22 percent for serious violent crimes and 55 percent for serious property crimes. In other words, more juveniles than adults were arrested for serious property crimes that year. 

Juveniles were responsible for a smaller share of serious crimes at the end of the century than in the 1960s and 1970s. Persons under age eighteen were involved in 17 percent of arrests for serious violent crimes and 33 percent of arrests for serious property crimes in 1998.

Chapter 12 chart 7

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

SA 1949, table 163; SA 1959, table 183; SA 1970, table 224; SA 1979, table 310; SA 1988, table 279; and SA 1998, table 355. See also Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Statistical Briefing Book, at (accessed August 25, 2000).


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