News Release

Perspectives on Juvenile Crime

While the White House Conference on Children, Violence and Responsibility has been in the spotlight, some researchers are questioning the focus of the event. Among those available for interviews are:

VINCENT SCHIRALDI
The director of the Justice Policy Institute, Schiraldi warned against Senate legislation to be submitted Tuesday that gives colleges access to juvenile records and allows for the jailing of kids in adult facilities. Schiraldi said: “In the wake of the tragedy in Littleton, more now than ever, the U.S. Senate needs to craft thoughtful legislation based on good data, not hyperbole. Many in the criminology community have deep concerns that the senators are setting policy in the belief that there is a massive increase in juvenile violence, when there have really been sharp declines in such violence.”
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KEVIN GRAY
A board member of the ACLU and author of the forthcoming The Death of Black Politics, Gray said: “We shouldn’t be turning schools into mini-prisons, with metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs. There’s been a move to make inner-city schools appear more violent so you can lock up those kids, for the sake of maintaining the criminal justice industry in an economic environment that gives those kids virtually no way out.”

LORI DORFMAN
Director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group, Dorfman has a doctorate in public health. She said: “Our research has found that youth and violence are conflated on local TV news. This means that the pictures of youth that policy makers and the public see most associate young people and violence. This distracts from the matter at hand, which is fashioning effective prevention. Violence is a public health problem, it’s preventable, not inevitable; we need to see stories of how violence is being prevented.”

MIKE MALES
Author of Framing Youth: Ten Myths About the Next Generation, Males said: “FBI figures are clear: Youth crime has been seriously misrepresented. In fact, the increase in teenage violent crime (up 33 percent by per-capita rate from 1980 to 1997) is less than occurred among adults (age 18-29, up 35 percent; age 30-49, up 59 percent; age 50+, up 27 percent). When all serious crime is considered, teenagers today are just as law-abiding as a generation as they were two decades ago, but serious adult crime has risen rapidly… During President Clinton’s six years in office, more than 10,000 American children and youths have been murdered in household violence, usually by parents. While the president and the press trumpet initiative after initiative on ‘youth violence’ and ‘school safety,’ they rarely mention that violent adults kill more kids (and adults) in three days than school killings do in a year.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167