Public Safety

Juvenile Intakes

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Juvenile Intakes

Juvenile intakes -- incidents in which a juvenile is alleged to have broken the law -- are difficult to compare across regions because of differences in legal policy and types of behavior. Virginia's intake rate is well below the national average for juvenile arrests for property and violent crimes.

Why is This Important?

Juvenile intakes provide a measure of problem behaviors among adolescents in a community, but intakes should not be interpreted as equaling the amount or seriousness of juvenile crime.

Intake data includes all offenses for which a child is brought to the Court Service Unit -- either by the police or via complaints brought by parents, neighbors, or others who do not call the police for an arrest.

How is Virginia Doing?

In 2012, Virginia's juvenile property crime arrest rate dropped again to 628 per 100,000 population aged 10-17. The national average was 888. Continuing recent trends, all peer states -- Maryland (1,138), North Carolina (946), and Tennessee (900) -- also saw lower arrest rates for juvenile property crimes than the year before, although these remained higher than in Virginia. Massachusetts had nation's the lowest juvenile property crime rate in 2012 at 303.

Juvenile Arrest Rates, Property Crime

2003 1,353 761   1,487 891 1,927
2004 1,315 818     960 1,953
2005 1,219 774   1,263 1,017 1,814
2006 1,175 725 495 1,222 895 1,860
2007 1,219 779 499   1,023 1,882
2008 1,287 833 591   1,116 1,998
2009 1,239 880 539 1,275 1,163 1,780
2010 1,091 765 439 1,134 1,093 1,568
2011 1,001 752 390 1,089 1,003 1,370
2012 888 628 303 946 900 1,138
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.

Virginia's juvenile arrest rate for violent crime in 2012 was 76 per 100,000 population aged 10-17. The U.S. average was 184 arrests per 100,000 youths. Virginia's rate was again markedly lower than all its peer states: In 2012, Maryland saw 289 arrests, North Carolina 152 and Tennessee 269. Wyoming replaced Maine as the state with the lowest youth violent crime rate -- 50 -- in 2012.

Juvenile Arrest Rates, Violent Crime

2003 270 106 89 287 194 499
2004 267 122 119   200 507
2005 279 146 129 289 263 495
2006 292 146 135 292 268 574
2007 282 147 124   283 550
2008 282 137 129   263 587
2009 255 107 83 248 252 522
2010 226 113 95 203 312 481
2011 204 110 85 181 295 347
2012 184 76 50 152 269 289
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.

Juvenile Intakes Per 1,000 Juvenile Population, By Region. See text for explanation.The rate at which youths are brought to a Court Service Unit has been declining for many regions across the state. Virginia's average juvenile intake rate has decreased from 77.3 per 1,000 youth in 2007 to 46.8 in 2016. The lowest rate in 2016 was again in the Northern region (30.7). The highest rate was in the West Central region, with 65.5 intakes per 1,000 youth.

What Influences Juvenile Intakes?

Policy and practice within each local justice system have a major influence on juvenile intakes. For example, some police departments have very strong community policing programs, where an officer may use alternatives to formal arrest with a youth seen or caught committing a crime -- informal counseling, in-home visits with the parents, etc. In other localities, law enforcement policy may be to take formal action on every alleged criminal activity. In other localities, strained resources may mean that many minor offenses go unreported, especially if more serious juvenile crime is prevalent.

What is the State's Role?

Juvenile intake services are provided through 32 state-operated and three locally operated Court Service Units.

Page last modified June 08, 2017
Juvenile Arrest Rates by Virginia Region

State rankings are ordered so that #1 is understood to be the best.

Data Definitions and Sources

Arrest rates:  US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,

Intakes: Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Research and Evaluation Unit, by special request from the Juvenile Tracking System
(updated annually)

Data for Fairfax City are included with Fairfax County.

Juvenile population in Virginia ranges from age 10 through age 21 (with 18 - 21 year olds included only if they were under juvenile justice supervision prior to their 18th birthday).

Notes: Intake is the process where a juvenile is brought before a Court Service Unit (CSU) for one or more alleged violations of law. At Intake, a specially trained officer determines whether there is enough evidence that the child violated a law, the appropriateness of release and/or referral without formal action (diversion), or formal action via petition.

If formal action is taken, the officer also determines whether the juvenile should be released to a parent or another responsible adult, placed in a detention alternative, or detained in a secure detention facility pending a court hearing.

People may be more familiar with arrest data. However, arrest data measures police activity and policy. In Virginia arrest reporting guidelines require that juvenile arrests are counted if an adult in the same situation would be arrested. This would exclude status offenses -- offenses that would not be crimes if committed by an adult (e.g., running way from home, truancy, etc.).

Following national guidelines, Virginia has since 1999 been gradually converting to an incident-based reporting format. While most police agencies are now using the incident-based system, the data across years may not be fully comparable until 2010 or later. Consequently, the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice now uses juvenile intake data rather than arrest data.

See the Data Sources and Updates Calendar for a detailed list of the data resources used for indicator measures on Virginia Performs.

At a Glance:
Juvenile Intakes in Virginia

Performance Trend: Trend is improving.
State Influence:  

National Level: Virginia has lower youth crime rates than many states; these rates are also markedly lower than the national averages. Massachusetts enjoys the lowest rate for youth property crime, while Wyoming has the lowest rates of violent crime committed by youths.

Virginia by Region:  In 2016, juvenile intake rates continued to decline in about half of the regions of the state.

Related Agency Measures
State Programs & Initiatives

The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) takes a balanced approach of accountability and comprehensive services to prevent and reduce delinquency through partnerships with families, schools, communities, and law enforcement.

The Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety provides Virginia localities with resources, best practices, training, and data collection services on school safety initiatives.

Additional Information

Boys and Girls Club of America has chapters in many localities across Virginia. Boys and Girls Club helps prevent youth crime and other problems by providing kids with a safe and positive place to learn and grow -- away from the streets and other temptations. Search for a club near you.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters help kids of all ages by offering at-risk kids relationships with caring adults and role models. Learn how you can help in your community.