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Detention and Delinquency Cases, 1985-1994

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1997
2 pages

Nationwide data are presented on detention among delinquency cases from 1985 through 1994.


The proportion of delinquency cases in which juveniles received detention was only slightly higher in 1994 than in 1985 (21 percent versus 20 percent). Consequently, the 43-percent increase in the number of delinquency cases involving detention paralleled the 41-percent increase in the number of cases processed by juvenile courts during that period. This pattern of similar growth in the number of cases involving detention and the number of cases referred was seen in all offense categories except drug-law violations. The number of drug-offense cases involving detention increased almost twice as much as the number of referrals for drug violations between 1985 and 1994. Between 1985 and 1994, the use of detention increased most among drug offense cases involving Blacks and males. Among all offense categories, Black youth were more likely to be detained than white youth during every year between 1985 and 1994. Growth in the number of cases involving detention was more than five times greater for Black youth than white youth (92 percent versus 17 percent) between 1985 and 1994. This disproportionate increase was largely driven by the rise in juvenile court referrals involving Black youth during this time; however, it also reflects the greater likelihood of detention among drug offense cases involving Black youth in 1994 compared to 1985 (44 percent versus 34 percent). Data on detention are also compared for male and female juvenile offenders during this period. These data are based on the report Juvenile Court Statistics 1994.

Date Published: March 1, 1997