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Drug Offense Cases in Juvenile Court, 1986-1995

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 1998
2 pages

Based on the report "Juvenile Court Statistics 1995," this Fact Sheet documents the proportion of juvenile drug offenders (those for whom a drug offense was the most serious charge) processed by juvenile courts nationwide from 1986 through 1995.


The drug offenses counted for this report include possession or sale of marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. Drug offenses accounted for 9 percent of all delinquency cases in 1995, compared with 5 percent in 1991. The number of drug offense cases processed during 1995 was 28-percent greater than in 1994 and 145 percent more than in 1991. Juvenile courts experienced a decline in their drug offense caseloads from 1988 to 1991, but then showed a sharp increase from 1991 to 1995. The number of juvenile arrests for drug offenses followed a similar pattern. Between 1986 and 1995, the male proportion of the drug caseload ranged from 83 percent to 88 percent. The male proportion was consistently higher among Black juveniles (92 percent to 94 percent) than among white juveniles (80 percent to 84 percent). The proportion of the drug caseload that involved white youth ranged from 74 percent in 1986 to 49 percent in 1991. In 1986, white males accounted for 60 percent of drug cases , and Black males accounted for 22 percent; however, by 1991 the proportion of drug cases that involved Black males was greater than that involving white males (45 percent versus 41 percent). In 1995, white males were again a larger proportion of the drug caseload than Black males (53 percent versus 31 percent). Data are also provided on trends in the use of detention in drug cases and the formal processing of drug cases in the juvenile justice system between 1991 and 1995. 2 figures and 1 table

Date Published: June 1, 1998