More than half the nation’s juvenile murder arrests occur in six large states, but such arrests are “virtually non-existent” in much of the rest of the nation, according to a study released Tuesday.
“What we found is that the problem of juvenile violent crime is not as widespread as we tend to believe,” said Eric Lotke, co-author of the report with Vincent Schiraldi. The study was released by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives and the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Florida and Michigan lead the nation in juvenile homicide arrests, with Texas averaging about 7.3 such arrests per 100,000 residents in 1993. Four U.S. cities - Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Detroit - account for nearly a third of the arrests but contain 5.3 percent of the nation’s youth.
According to the study, more than 80 percent of U.S. counties had no such arrests.
The study was released Tuesday, as the House Judiciary Committee began final work on a bill that would encourage states to try more juveniles who commit violent crimes as adults.
The Violent Youth Predator Act of 1996, sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., would allow youths from 14 to 18 to be tried as adults in federal courts in violent crimes and provide block grants for punitive programs for juvenile offenders.
McCollum said in a statement Tuesday that the bill would balance prevention programs with real punishment for crime, adding that the youths were committing adult crimes.
The study also found that the rate of juvenile homicide arrests was not lower in states that tried more youths as adults in such cases.
The report, praised by Texas Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee and other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, maintained that trying youth as adults doesn’t always mean fewer youth homicide arrests and that youths are being transferred into the adult system frequently for nonviolent crimes.
The report calls for more recreational opportunities and stronger gun controls to deal with youth crime, noting that juvenile homicides with guns have quadrupled in the past 10 years while non-gun homicides have remained stable.