chapter  12
10 Pages

Kids and Crime

WithMichele Magar

On a typical day in America in 1989, more than 92,000 children were incarcerated in public and private institutions; juvenile faculties had more than 750,000 admissions in the course of the year. Eighty-two percent of Americans surveyed in the summer of 1991 believed youth crime had gone up in their state in the last three years, with the majority stating it had increased greatly. Ira Schwartz, who also headed the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention from 1979 to 1981, believes with Hurst that the news media are at least partly to blame for the public's misperceptions about juvenile crime. "Juvenile crime generates fear, and anything that generates fear is marketable", Hurst says. The public's fear of juvenile crime, whipped into a frenzy by the government's war on drugs, has fueled the "get tough" policy toward youth crime that has swept the nation.