To better understand whether a portion of recent increases in juvenile commitments represents inappropriate residential placements, the Legislature directed OPPAGA to analyze the delinquency history of youth who were committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation during the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Questions about commitment arose from two recent trends.
- The number of juvenile referrals to court for all offenses declined 11% between Fiscal Year 1995-96 and 1999-00. However, during the same period, the number of judicial commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice increased by 39%.
- During that time, the number of youth committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation of probation increased. Non-law violations of probation occur when youth violate conditions of probation, such as staying out after curfew or skipping school.
This analysis addresses the following questions. (A description of our data analysis methodology and definitions is provided in Appendix A.)
1. How many youth were committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice, and what percentage was committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation? Judges committed 9,494 youth to the department; 41% of all commitments were for a non-law violation of probation or a misdemeanor.
2. Did youth committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation of probation have prior histories of extensive felonies or violent felonies? No, 77% of these youth had never been adjudicated for a violent felony, roughly 30% had no felonies and 30% had one felony.
3. Were youth committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation of probation charged with a felony in the three months preceding their commitment? No, over 73% of these youth did not have a felony charge.
4. Did youth with no felonies who were committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation of probation have prior histories of extensive misdemeanors? Of non-felons committed for a misdemeanor, 79% had three or more misdemeanors. Of non-felons committed for a non-law violation, 81% had two or fewer misdemeanors.
5. How extensive were the prior delinquency histories of youth committed for a misdemeanor or a non-law violation of probation? Eleven percent of these youth had no felonies and no recent felony charges and less than three misdemeanors; 44% had 0-1 felonies or recent felony charges and varying numbers of misdemeanors; and 45% of youth had two or more felonies or recent felony charges in their history.
Which Government Program Summaries contain related information?
Probation and Community Intervention
Department of Juvenile Justice
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