WASHINGTON — The U.S. crime rate is likely to get worse in the next decade because of an increase in teen-agers, who are twice as violent as adults, the chiefs of the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency warned Tuesday.
"This crime problem has all the probability of getting worse before it gets better," DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
FBI Director Louis J. Freeh said at the same hearing that the number of teen-agers between the ages of 14 and 17 was expected to increase 20% between the years 1990 and 2000.
"That rate of growth, coupled with that age group's apparent propensity for violence, may have a severe impact on the future rate of crime in America," Freeh said.
Constantine said violent-crime rates for 14- to 17-year-olds were twice as high as adult levels, with most of that linked to increased drug use. "By the year 2005, we will have more teen-agers in America than ever before. Many criminologists predict another crime wave early in the next century when the majority of the current boom hits late adolescence," he said.
Freeh said the FBI was adding 640 agents this year after a two-year hiring freeze.