Problems of a special character also are encountered with respect to crime type (violent versus property) and offender (adult versus juvenile). Crime in the United States, particularly violent crime, has been a major concern of the American population for decades. Although incumbent politicians, of whatever political party, usually supply statistics to indicate that the crime problem has been and is being effectively dealt with under their administrations, most people, particularly those residing in the country's urban areas, tend to perceive little improvement in the situation (Kelling & Coles, 1996).
A particularly troublesome factor in recent years has been the increase in the proportion of all crimes which are perpetrated by young offendersùthose individuals under age 17, and over age five. Persons under age 17 and over age five are responsible for approximately 39 percent of serious property crimes, which are cleared by arrest, and for approximately 17 percent of violent crimes so cleared. In the instance of serious crime committed by young offenders, the types of crimes, and the characteristics of the individuals committing the offenses are largely known. A real problem exists, however, with respect to the effective means which may be developed and implemented to correct the situation (Kelling & Coles, 1996).
A national study found that approximately seven-percent of all juvenile delinquency referrals to juvenile courts involved violent crime. The disposition of these cases by the juvenile courts has been sharply criticized, for being ineffective in the deterrence of both repeat and first time offenses. An independent study prepared for the federal Department of Justice identified seven factors which differentiate the disposition of cases by juvenile courts from those in adult courtsù(1) an absence of legal guilt, (2) treatment rather than punishment, (3) absence of public scrutiny, (4) importance accorded to a juven...
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