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Minnesota arrests of juveniles drop sharply from 1998 peak

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Arrests of juveniles in Minnesota steadily increased through the 1980s and 1990s, to a peak of nearly 80,000 in 1998, and then dropped dramatically in the last decade, to just 36,000 arrests in 2011.

That's according to a new report from the Office of Justice Programs in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The 55 percent drop is attributable in part to a shift in philosophies about how to handle teen offenders, with more emphasis on diversion programs and detention alternatives that prevent youths from going deeper in the system, said report author Dana Swayze, juvenile justice analyst with the state agency.

“There’s more focus on prevention,” Swayze tells the Star Tribune. “It’s helping offenders repair the harm that they’ve done, re-integrate them into the community and addressing the underlying factors that brought them into the juvenile system."

In a press release, Raeone Magnuson, OJP director, says, "This is obviously a trend that we hope continues on a downward course for years to come; however, the data also highlights areas that remain a concern, such as racial disparity in the juvenile justice system."

Federal data indicates that minority teens in Minnesota are much more likely to be arrested that white youths, WCCO reports. In 2011, African-American youths were nearly 6 times more likely to be arrested than white teens, WCCO says.

The drop in juvenile arrests mirrors a national trend, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts report.

Here's more data from the release that helps illustrate the rise and fall of juvenile arrests in Minnesota (rates are per 1,000 youths ages 10-17 from 1980-2011):

Overall Arrests

1982—59.8 arrests (30-year low)
1998—133.9 arrests (30-year high)
2011—63.6 arrests

Violent Crime Arrests
Violent crimes are classified as serious, person-related offenses—murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault and robbery.

1980, 1983—1.3 arrests (30-year low)
1994—4.0 arrests (30-year high)
2011—1.7 arrests

Property Crime Arrests
Property crime consists of four offenses—larceny, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.

1980—26.9 arrests
1992—33.7 arrests (30-year high)
2011—14.1 arrests (30-year low)

Status Offense Arrests
Status offenses include acts that are unlawful due to the offender’s legal status as a minor—curfew, loitering and runaway offenses.

1981—4.6 arrests (30-year low)
2000—22.9 arrests (30-year high)
2011—8.0 arrests

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