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Formerly detained youths had 23 times as many firearm deaths

Firearm-related deaths and injuries unduly affect young people, especially Black and Hispanic males.

A new study in JAMA Network Open gauges the prevalence of such violence in one of the most at-risk populations: youths in the juvenile justice system.

According to data from the 25-year Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of more than 1,800 Chicago youths after detention, formerly detained young people saw up to 23 times the rate of firearm deaths as residents of their home county.

Rates varied by sex, race and ethnicity, and age. Sixteen years after detention, more than one-quarter of Black and Hispanic males had been injured or killed by firearms.

Despite their greater exposure to risk factors like gun access, community violence, substance abuse and gang activity, juveniles in the justice system are rarely the subjects of gun violence research.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.