NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Teens in Prison

April 9, 1997

Some 40 states have cracked down on juvenile crime in the past five years, either lowering the age an offender can be tried as an adult or giving prosecutors more leeway to charge a juvenile as a grown-up. The result is that the number of 17-years-olds-and-under in adult correctional institutions has tripled since 1979.

  • Although those under 17 who are sentenced as adults remains less than 1 percent of the nation's prison population, an estimated 6,100 were in adult state prisons as of the middle of last year.
  • This segment of the prison population is growing so fast that some states are building special facilities to house the youngsters apart from adult prisoners.
  • Prison authorities say juvenile offenders are often far more dangerous to deal with than older inmates.

While blacks represent slightly more than half of the adult prison population, the figures are weighted more heavily toward blacks in the juvenile group.

Source: J. Taylor Buckley, "Growing Up... And Growing Old in Prison," USA Today, April 9, 1997.


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