Juvenile Arrest Figures

Juvenile Arrest Figures

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Summer 2006). "Juvenile Arrest Figures." Alaska Justice Forum 23(2): 2-3. In both Alaska and the U.S. as a whole, most juvenile arrests continue to involve property rather than violent crime. In Alaska, however, juvenile arrests for property crimes have constituted a higher proportion of juvenile arrests than in the nation as a whole. This article presents figures for juvenile arrests reported under the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program for 1995 to 2004.

Juvenile crime in Alaska is not greater than elsewhere, although there are some differences between Alaska figures and those of the nation as whole. Juveniles throughout the country constitute a disproportionately high percentage of total arrests for property crimes,but it seems that juvenile property crime in Alaska, at least as reflected in the percentage of arrests for these crimes, is even more widespread than in the country overall.

To break these figures down: Between 1995 and 2004—the last year for which figures are available—total juvenile arrests in Alaska, for all types of offenses, have ranged between 15 percent and 18 percent of all arrests statewide—very slightly lower than the comparable national figures (Table 1).

As the table indicates, most juvenile arrests in this state and in the country overall involve property crimes rather than violence. In Alaska, however, juvenile arrests for property crimes have been an even higher percentage of the total number of arrests for such crimes than in the nation as a whole. In 2003, juveniles arrested in Alaska for property crimes constituted 43.6 percent of all such arrests, and in 2004, 35.1 percent. The comparable national percentages were 28.9 percent for 2003 and 27.5 percent for 2004.

Arrests of juveniles for violent crimes constitute much lower percentages of the whole and are generally similar to national percentages. In 2003, 215 juveniles were arrested for crimes of violence—15.1 percent of total arrests for such crimes statewide. In 2004, 178 juveniles were arrested for violent offenses—12 percent of such arrests.

Juveniles under 18 were 31 percent of the population in both 2003 and 2004. The juvenile population between the ages of 10 and 18—realistically, the age range in which most arrests would fall—was 14 percent in each year. According to census figures available from the Alaska Department of Labor, the estimated total population for 2003 was 631,457, with 192,872 under 18—and 90,468 between 10 and 18. For 2004, the total population was 637,349, with 194,153 under 18—and 90,440 between the ages of 10 and 18.

The source for the arrest figures presented here is the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI, which compiles arrest figures annually from law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. To monitor the extent of crime the UCR assembles figures on total arrests and on eight particular offense categories designated as the Crime Index. These index crimes include the violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of larceny-theft, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Alaska UCR figures reflect only the reported arrests from the participating agencies. Not all agencies participate every year, so the figures are probably somewhat low. From year to year, they may not reflect an identical population and geographic base. (Many small bush communities do not participate, although many arrests in rural Alaska are made by the state troopers and thus are included in these numbers.) For the years covered in Table 1 the population base represented for each year ranged from an extreme low of 44 percent in 1997, when only 19 agencies reported figures, to a high of 97 percent in 2003 and 2004. Since 1999 the population base represented has consistently been 90 percent or higher, with the number of agencies reporting ranging from 27 to 30.
Most juveniles arrested in Alaska are handled by the Division of Juvenile Justice, but for some offenses—primarily serious crimes of violence—they are placed into the adult criminal justice system.

Table 1. Reported Juvenile Arrests: National and Alaska, 1995-2004