American Youth Violence

American Youth Violence

American Youth Violence

American Youth Violence

Synopsis

This is the definitive examination of adolescent violence in the United States as both a social phenomenon and a policy problem. Franklin Zimring, one of America's most esteemed scholars of law and crime, scrutinizes criminal statistics and demographic trends in order to authoritatively address public worries. The result is a thorough debunking of Congressional predictions of "a coming storm of juvenile violence" and the half-baked policy proposals that accompany such warnings. The book sets forth comprehensive and dispassionate analyses of three key areas of youth violence policy: adolescent firearms possession and use, standards for transfer from juvenile to criminal court jurisdiction, and legal sanctions for adolescents who kill. Throughout American Youth Violence, the core issues of youth violence in the 1990s are examined with an unprecedented degree of analytic rigour. Zimring also offers an appropriate set of responses to youth violence that are consistent with a positive future for the juvenile court and for American youth.

Excerpt

This book is about violent acts by adolescent offenders and the legal principles and institutions that respond to youth violence. the focus of this study is narrow in two important respects. First, the violent acts discussed here are only those committed by offenders under the age of 18, less than a quarter of all life-threatening violence in the United States. If serious violence is the subject of concern, devoting a sustained analysis only to offenders under 18 misses more than three-quarters of the problem. the second major limit of the study is that only one type of adolescent deviance is under scrutiny. More than 80 percent of all juvenile law violations are not violent. If juvenile crime is the topic of concern, a book-length study of only those acts that inflict or threaten bodily harm will ignore the great majority of youth crimes.

Yet adolescent violence has been throughout the 1990s a special focus of concern in American society and government. Commentators and legislators worry about adolescent violence (and not the violence of older offenders) because it is believed that youth violence, alone, is increasing and is likely to continue increasing. Adolescent violence is considered a separate problem from other forms of youth crime because of the larger harm that violent acts cause and because serious violence by young offenders in the 1990s is believed to be an indication that American cities are witnessing the emergence of a more dangerous breed of juvenile offender, whose vicious behavior is unprecedented and whose numbers can only grow in the first decade of the next century.

In the first seven years of the 1990s, virtually every state in the United States has changed the laws designed to cope with violence by offenders under 18, and the U.S. Congress and executive branch have been debating far-reaching proposals about juvenile and criminal justice to respond to levels of youth violence that are regarded as a national emergency.

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