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Use of Detention

In some cases, juveniles are held in secure detention facilities before adjudication and disposition. This serves to protect the community and the juvenile, ensure his or her appearance at scheduled hearings, and allow for evaluation if needed. The number of delinquency cases involving detention increased 38% between 1987 and 1996, rising from 231,900 to 320,900 (table 7). During the same 10-year period, the number of person offense cases involving detention increased 97%, the number of drug offense cases involving detention increased 89%, and the number of public order cases involving detention increased 35%. The number of property offense cases involving detention in 1996 was 8% greater than in 1987, although the number of property offense cases involving detention fell 13% between 1992 and 1996.

Table 7: Percent Change in Detained Delinquency Cases, 1987-1996
 
Table 7
 
Note: Detail may not add to totals because of rounding. Percent change calculations are based on unrounded numbers.

The proportion of delinquency cases involving detention changed little between 1987 and 1996 (table 8). Overall, the use of detention gradually rose and then fell between 1987 and 1996, ranging from 18% to 23% of delinquency cases, with the peak year being 1990. The same pattern was seen in each of the four major offense categories. For drug offense cases, however, the probability of detention was greater and the range in the use of detention was broader (from 23% to 38%).

Table 8: Percentage of Delinquency Cases Detained, by Sex, 1987, 1992, and 1996
 
Table 8
 

In 1996, the likelihood of detention for property offense cases (14%) was lower than for other types of offenses (21% to 23%). However, because of the large number of property offense cases, they accounted for 39% of the cases in which the juvenile was detained. In general, the use of detention was greater for males than for females (20% versus 14%) in 1996. This was true for all offenses except public order offenses, where females were almost as likely to be detained as their male counterparts.

In 1996, the likelihood of detention in delinquency cases involving white juveniles was 14%, while it was 27% for those involving black juveniles and 18% for juveniles of other races (table 9). Compared with 1987, the use of detention in 1996 remained the same for cases involving black youth and was lower for white youth and youth of other races. For all racial categories, the use of detention in drug offense cases was considerably lower in 1996 than in 1987.

Table 9: Percentage of Delinquency Cases Detained, by Race, 1987, 1992, and 1996
 
Table 9
 

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Offenders in Juvenile Court, 1996Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  July 1999