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Missoula Measures - Youth Delinquency

Why this topic?

Youth delinquency includes theft, runaways, assault, obstructing justice, disorderly conduct, trespass, ungovernable, weapons, burglary, illegal possession, drug offenses, curfew violations, criminal mischief, and more — activities that worry almost all of us in our own or anybody’s kids. We want to see fewer of these behaviors, fewer severe incidents, and fewer kids following a path that gets them into worse trouble. In Missoula, District Court judges have given Youth Court the authority to handle any youth charges. Most cases are received as a referral from law enforcement as the result of a citation being issued to the child. However, they also accept referrals from school, parents, and youth themselves. Citations are reviewed, a probation officer is assigned, and an intake hearing is held with the officer, the youth, and the parents.

We realize that the justice system isn’t the only arena where we find troubled youth. We are unable in this measure to address important concerns such as foster care, other out-of-home placement, and severely emotionally disturbed young people.

How are we doing?

Much juvenile offending is not reported. Some of the numbers reflect enforcement priorities. Often the juvenile justice system is called upon to intervene toward the end of offending careers, when the crime reduction potential is much lower. In an average year, about one-third are youth with more than one referral. It is important to remember that less than 5% of numbers reflect dangerous, chronic offenders who present a serious threat to public safety. But many Missoula officials are concerned about rising numbers and are especially concerned about increases in more violent crimes and crimes involving guns.


Graph showing number of youth court intake hearings over time.

Source: Youth Court

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Related Data

Alcohol, other drugs, & crime

The more seriously involved a youth is with alcohol or other drugs, the more likely that juvenile is to be involved in delinquency. 1990 Drugs and Violence: Causes, Correlates, and Consequences An MIP is a minor in possession of alcohol.

graph minors in possession of alcohol arrests thru 2010

graph Missoula Youth Court drug offenses 2001-2010

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Brief Background

Missoula County youth offenses
  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Crimes against persons 189 156 147 212 147 121 151 176 151 164
Crimes against property 551 549 591 553 431 367 448 394 436 440
Drug offenses 116 167 160 138 97 57 80 38 51 55
Offenses against public administration 261 227 305 243 231 233 271 243 67 74
Offenses against public order 97 90 117 173 151 110 137 129 129 136
Other offenses 22 24 22 11 62 57 3 3 185 156
Status offenses (runaway, truancy, etc.) 647 563 528 501 417 386 654 596 720 434

Montana Board of Crime Control

Felony Referrals

Depending on a number of factors (such as the level of the offense, or a chronic troubled history with youth court), sometimes felony charges are filed and youths are taken before a District Court judge.

Graph showing percent of youth court intakes referred to District Court.

Roughly one-half of all felony charges are not filed with District Court. (Youth Court)


Related Measures


Related Websites

Montana Board of Crime Control - county and state data on youth crimes.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service - (NCJRS) an extensive source for information on criminal and juvenile justice.

Centers for Disease Control - Youth Violence


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