Juvenile Crime in Delaware

When discussing juvenile crime in the state of Delaware, it is important to remember that the population of the entire state is approximately 907,000 people. That is what tends to make these juvenile crime statistics stand out. The Kids Count Data Center lists the number of juvenile crimes for the state of Delaware in 2011 and gives us a summary that includes:

  • The total number of violent juvenile crimes throughout the state was 1,644.
  • There were 502 drug and narcotic offenses.
  • The total number of juveniles arrested in the entire state was 3,835.
  • Serious property crime arrests for juveniles clocked in at 1,210.

In a state of 907,000 people, a juvenile arrest rate of 3,835 can seem high. But, in reality, that is actually an accomplishment for the state of Delaware as that number is significantly reduced from previous years. As an example, the total number of juvenile arrests in the state of Delaware for 2007 was 5,580. That is an extremely high number and it was a problem that was obviously addressed by state law enforcement officials.

A look at the data shows that the most common category of juvenile crime committed in the state of Delaware is violent crimes. These can include assaults, armed robbery and rape. It is interesting to note that, as the unemployment figures for Delaware went up, the juvenile crime rate has gone down. It could be said that the authority figures had more time to devote to juvenile crime with the unemployment rate going up, or the adults may have started to move into crime territory that was previously the domain of juveniles. It is hard to say, but the downward trend for juvenile crime in Delaware is definitely encouraging.

There was a rise in juvenile crime that saw a crescendo in 2007. The numbers leading up to that year show a constant trend upwards. The numbers include:

  • Juvenile arrests in 2004 – 5,289
  • Juvenile arrests in 2005 – 5,490
  • Juvenile arrests in 2006 – 5,539

In each year, violent crimes were the most prevalent and there was also an upward trend in narcotics related crime among juveniles as well. Obviously, there were measures take in 2008 that proved to be extremely successful at curbing juvenile crime and getting the youth of Delaware back on the right track. It can be discouraging for the parents of a state to watch their children pursue a life of crime. But it can also be extremely encouraging to see parents take control of the situation and get the children out of trouble and back to focusing on important things in life.

One of the primary reasons why the numbers on juvenile crime in Delaware have dropped so dramatically is an initiative referred to as the Delaware Juvenile Justice System. It is the state’s response to the rise in juvenile crime and the organization lists a series of impressive accomplishments to its credit and it continues its hard work on into 2013. The primary group responsible for the initiative consists of family court judges and law enforcement officials throughout the state who work together to try and help kids caught up in crime.

The group put together an initiative called the “Community Services Restructure Plan” which puts the emphasis on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. The policies in the Delaware courts before this initiative was introduced made it very difficult for children who needed help to get the guidance they needed to avoid a life of crime. But when the Delaware Juvenile Justice System was put into effect and introduced the Community Services Restructure Plan, the entire emphasis on juvenile crime changed and a significant number of repeat juvenile offenders were given the help they needed to stay off the streets and avoid adding to those juvenile crime statistics.

Famous juvenile crimes in Delaware can be hard to find because many of the records are sealed. But there are crimes committed against juveniles that find their ways into our headlines. One such story is about a 70-year-old Georgetown, Delaware man named David Pennington was part of a sting operation by the Delaware Attorney General that involved suspicions of child pornography. When the investigation was over, Pennington was arrested and handed a sentence of 28 years in prison for his role in a child pornography ring.

Crimes committed by or towards children have no place in our society. The state of Delaware took an active role in reducing juvenile crime by working to rehabilitate repeat offenders and convince them to take on a more productive life. The numbers show that the program is extremely successful and should stand as a model for other states in the country. By offering rehabilitation services to children who seem to be headed down the wrong path in life, the state has been able to turn many of those repeat offenders into kids with bright futures.