Juv Arrests Drop in Wisconsin

The number of juvenile arrests in Wisconsin dropped noticeably from 1997 to 2006, according to state officials. The La Crosse Tribune reports that

When it comes to those 17 and younger, three broad categories of arrests are tabulated and reported by the state Office of Justice Assistance: index arrests, for serious offenses such as murder and rape; nonindex arrests for all other less-serious offenses; and status violations (a subset of nonindex arrests), for things such as curfew violations and runaways.

Each of these categories showed overall decreases from 1997 to 2006 — the most recent year for which data are available — as did all but two of 16 specific types of crime tracked by OJA over time. Murder arrests, for example, showed the largest percentage drop, falling 71 percent from 78 arrests in 1997 to 23 in 2006. Runaway calls fell dramatically over that period, too, from 9,075 to 4,778.

The only two of the 16 offenses tracked in which there were increases from 1997 to 2006, according to OJA data, were drug offenses (4,936 to 5,088) and drunken driving (543 to 786).

“I think part of the credit to that statewide drop is there’s been more proactive enforcement,” R.J. Lurquin, a Dane County Sheriff’s deputy and president of the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, told the paper.

“It’s really hard for any one school of thought to claim victory,” counters Ken Streit, a juvenile crime scholar at the UW-Madison Law School, who attributes the drop also to the bankruptcy of the “superpredator” scare and the accompanying shift from punitive approaches to diversion programs, prevention and outreach.

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