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Detention in Delinquency Cases, 1990-1999

NCJ Number
Paul Harms
Date Published
September 2003
2 pages

This Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Fact Sheet reports on the juvenile delinquency caseload ordered to detention between 1990 and 1999.


The steady increase in the delinquency caseload has led to an increase in the number of juveniles ordered into the detention system. Between 1990 and 1999, the detention caseload increased 11 percent. However, the proportion of delinquency cases ordered to detention remained relatively stable over the same time period. Demographic changes in the juvenile detention population did change however. More juveniles charged with person and drug offenses, and more females, had entered the detention system by 1999. In fact, during the period 1990 through 1999, the female detention population swelled by 50 percent compared with the 4 increase for males. In terms of race, the number of cases involving orders of detention grew 17 percent for white juveniles and 3 percent for Black juveniles from 1990 through 1999. Despite the growth in white juvenile detentions, Black juveniles were still more likely to be detained than were their white counterparts between 1990 and 1999. The delineation of disposition outcome by offense indicates that the proportion of drug offenses involving an outcome of detention decreased between 1990 and 1999, while the number of drug offenses cases handled by juvenile courts increased 169 percent during the same period. The steady growth in the number of juvenile offenders and the limited availability of detention beds are regarded as factors in this trend. Finally, the report notes that the use of detention decreased slightly for all age groups between 1990 and 1999. Resources for more information are listed. Tables