Reports of Youth Crime Wave Debunked by Latest Research
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
New research by The Sentencing Project shows a drop in youth crime over the past 20 years, which debunks a so-called "false narrative" of a youth violence movement sweeping the country.
Sarah Reyes, policy analyst at the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, said there is little data since the pandemic started, but she suspects the drop in crime, at least in Texas, was an anomaly because kids were isolated due to COVID-19.
"Kids were at home, and weren't getting things like dress-coded or for fighting," Reyes observed. "School is the biggest place where kids are accused of committing a crime."
Reyes pointed out other juveniles end up incarcerated because Texas has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. Possession of any amount of THC is a felony, whether it's a vape cartridge, edible or marijuana brownie.
The Sentencing Project reported the overall number of offenses committed by youth categorized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as violent, including murder, rape and robbery, declined in 2020.
At the same time, an 18-year-old male was responsible for the school shooting in Uvalde last month, killing 19 students and two teachers and wounding 17 others.
Richard Mendel, senior research fellow for The Sentencing Project and the report's author, said too often such events lead to a broad call for stricter punishments and harsher treatment. He contended methods to crack down have consistently proven to be ineffective at preventing crime, and are instead likely to cause crime to increase.
"This is not a moment to be panicking about youth crime," Mendel asserted. "Especially if that panic is going to lead us to embrace solutions that we know the evidence shows does not work."
Reyes noted the extreme anti-transgender legislation in Texas has discouraged and frightened many teens, and she believes Texas policymakers need to lead with more empathy.
"It's going to be stuff like that, that really harms everybody; families, kids," Reyes explained. "We saw this Uvalde shooting and the response to that. Maybe something's going to come out of it, but it might not be what is needed, just given Texas' political landscape."
get more stories like this via email
Congress has signed off on a bill that preserves federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. A legal expert in Wisconsin says it …
Airport service workers rallied in Washington, D.C., Thursday to demand Congress pass legislation ensuring they receive a livable wage with stronger …
Before the pandemic, one in five people in Los Angeles County lacked consistent access to food - and in 2021, one in four low-income families …
Electric vehicles are an environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another, but the lack of charging stations often limits drivers to …
As Americans make end-of-year donations to their favorite causes, those that help children with cancer and their families say these households need …
A labor union representing agricultural workers in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia says it isn't waiting around for federal immigration reform to …
West Virginia's prison population has ballooned, and formerly incarcerated people face numerous obstacles when they are released. A Charleston-based …
As the year comes to a close, the Sierra Club of Connecticut is looking back on some of its accomplishments and challenges. The group focuses on …