Memphis & Shelby County Crime Commission Releases Data On Juvenile Crime Charges

(MEMPHIS & SHELBY CO. CRIME COMMISSION) - Based on an analysis of Juvenile Court figures from the first eight months of the year, overall delinquent (criminal) charges against juveniles are continuing a steady downward trend since 2011. (Delinquent charges include both felonies and misdemeanors.)


However, charges for major violent delinquent acts have increased significantly, and there has been an alarming increase in auto theft charges.


Overall, delinquent charges have decreased 59.7 percent compared to 2011 and 25.2 percent compared to last year.


Charges for major violent delinquent acts are on the increase, though, with a 17.9 percent increase over 2011 and a 35.8 percent increase over last year.


The most alarming figure is the increase in delinquent charges for auto theft. Figures show a staggering 826.0 percent increase since 2011 (when auto theft was simply not a significant juvenile charge in terms of numbers) and a 99.1 percent increase over last year.


Looking at all delinquent complaints against juveniles, Juvenile Court figures show that about 40 percent are repeat offenders.


“Juvenile delinquency is and has always been the product of bad decisions. Adolescents and teens lack the overall executive control of their brains. Reducing the crime rate has to start with treating juvenile delinquency in a manner that corrects the child’s behavior before he or she becomes an adult habitually tied to the criminal justice system,” said Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael.


“We can take some comfort in the overall steady and significant reduction in delinquent charges since 2011, but the increase in charges for major violent acts and auto theft are of major concern. Through the local Operation: Safe Community crime plan, we are focused on breaking the cycle of delinquency by reducing the number of repeat offenders and, by doing that, hopefully reducing the number of juveniles who move toward committing serious offenses,” said Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and executive director of the Public Safety Institute (PSI) at the University of Memphis.


On Tuesday, October 17, the PSI is sponsoring a symposium on Breaking the Cycle of Delinquency, which is co-hosted by the Urban Child Institute. The symposium will focus on creating a juvenile assessment center for Memphis and Shelby County to more effectively address causes for delinquent behavior. More information is available at


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