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Criminal Resource Manual

101. Federal Prosecution Of Juveniles

NOTE: Sections 101-153 of this Manual are taken from the monograph, Federal Prosecution of Juveniles, written by John B. Stevens, Jr., Chief of Criminal Division, Eastern District of Texas.

Clearly, youth violence is the greatest single crime problem that this nation faces. I have asked United States Attorneys, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to do everything possible to address the issues of youth violence. It is not only a criminal justice problem but it's one of the great public health problems we face in America today. I think it's imperative that we work with state and local law enforcement to do everything we can to pursue the serious juvenile offender. If it's a gang activity that cuts across state lines or district lines, and we can properly assist local law enforcement, or if there are reasons that make federal laws more effective in focusing on and disrupting gang activity, we should pursue that as a partner with local law enforcement. There has to be a fair and firm sanction that fits the crime. At the same time, we've got to develop comprehensive initiatives that prevent violent crime amongst our youth.

Janet Reno, United States Attorney General, Remarks at Weekly Press Conference at the United States Department of Justice (October 27, 1994).

A close look at the nation's young people discloses something that is very alarming. Since 1985, we have seen an increase in the level of youth violence that is simply staggering, particularly for youth age fourteen to seventeen. The tragedy of this youth violence produces similarly tragic corollary; youth as the victims of that violence. This surge in youth violence is particularly frightening when we realize that it occurred, for the most part, in a period when the number of young people in the category of age fourteen to seventeen was decreasing in the United States. The distressing story that we must confront is that as the number of young people in this age category was falling, the percentage of those youth committing homicide was rising steeply. The nation's demographic data, makes quite clear, that the next twenty years will produce a significant increase in the number of young people, fourteen to seventeen. Unmistakably, the current rise of youth violence presages the next generation of even more tragic crime and violence unless we do something now. We must reach out and hold our young people accountable when they do wrong. We must love them enough not to give up on them but to work with them to let them know that there will be fair, firm, certain punishment when they hurt others.

Janet Reno, United States Attorney General, Remarks at Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues, Kansas State University (October 24, 1995).

[cited in USAM 9-8.230]