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Issue Brief: A Juvenile Justice System Focused On Improving Public Safety (6/28/2010)

Thursday, June 28, 2012
Falling crime, but public safety challenges remain

“For the third consecutive year, violent crime has declined in the United States, including a 7.2 percent reduction in homicides, preliminary FBI figures for 2009 released Monday show. The trend extended to the District, where violent crime was down 7.2 percent, from 8,135 incidents to 7,586, and the number of homicides fell from 186 to 143, according to data from the FBI's Preliminary Uniform Crime Report.” —From The Washington Post, Tuesday, May 23, 2010.

Falling crime, but public safety challenges remain

In the early and mid‐1990s, both adult and juvenile crime in the District of Columbia surged to high levels, and the city was given the dubious title of “murder capital” when 474 people were killed in 1994. Data from the FBI showed that, in 1994, 26 young people were arrested for homicide in the District.

Last year, the District experienced the lowest number of homicides in 43 years, and as of May 2010, there were fewer homicide arrests compared to this time last year. In the last five years, the number of juveniles arrested for violent crime has declined by 5 percent. The latest data show that juvenile arrests in the city have fallen. Reducing the juvenile and adult crime rate to its lowest levels in decades has been a critical ingredient to improving the quality of life in the District.

Despite having the lowest crime rate in decades, many neighborhoods still face unacceptable levels of crime. This is particularly true for parts of the city that still face the biggest challenges in improving schools, reducing unemployment, and expanding business opportunities – these are solutions to reduce high levels of crime within our communities. Together with our juvenile justice partners—police, prosecutors, the courts, probation and community based programs and neighborhood groups—the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) has helped focus the system on the most effective ways to improve public safety across the city.