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Police and Juvenile Criminals (From Kids Who Commit Adult Crimes: Serious Criminality by Juvenile Offenders, P 137-147, 2002, R. Barri Flowers, -- See NCJ-197664)

NCJ Number
Barri Flowers
Date Published
11 pages
This chapter on police interaction with juvenile criminals addresses police arrests of juveniles, police contact with the juvenile offender, the use of police discretion with the juvenile offender, and juvenile attitudes toward police.
Persons under age 18 accounted for almost 20 percent of arrests in 1999. Juvenile arrestees have been predominantly male, white, and over 16 years of age. Arrest data from 1990 to 1999 show that the arrests of juveniles nationwide increased 11 percent, with arrests of female youths increasing nearly 32 percent while male juvenile arrests rose almost 5 percent. Police typically become involved with juvenile offenders through citizen complaints and direct observation of juveniles committing delinquent or criminal acts or otherwise acting suspicious. When contacting juveniles suspected of a crime or delinquent act, a number of formal and informal options are available for use by police at their discretion. These include release at the scene after questioning, a reprimand before release, taking into custody for questioning before release, issuing of a citation for appearance in juvenile court before release to the family, a citation and direct transference to juvenile court, referral to a diversionary program, and referral to the criminal court. In the majority of police-juvenile contacts, no arrests are made, and when arrests are made, most juveniles are referred to the juvenile court jurisdiction. Generally, the degree of severity of the suspected offenses is the critical factor in the police use of discretion. Other factors in police decision making are the attitude of the complainant toward the suspected offense, the gender of the juvenile, the race or ethnicity of the juvenile, the quality of the interaction between police and the juvenile, and departmental policies and procedures regarding juveniles. Juvenile attitudes toward police have generally been found to be positive; however, attitudes tend to vary according to the nature of previous police contacts, race, ethnicity, and gender. 2 tables and 3 figures