Focus on the Figures: Juvenile Felony Arrests

Every other week, The Chronicle of Social Change will feature one key indicator from Kidsdata, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well being of children across California.

In this installment, we look at county felony arrest rates for juvenile offenders. A state’s list of felony crimes generally includes its most serious crimes, the ones most likely to earn a period of incarceration for the offender.

These tend to involve injury or substantial property loss, such as homicide, rape, theft, and drug offenses. Less serious offenses are often categorized as misdemeanors.

About nine of every 1,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 17 were arrested for a felony in 2012. This rate is down 55 percent from 1998, when almost 20 of every 1,000 juveniles were arrested.

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Today, not one county in the state has a rate equivalent with that 1998 average. Lake County, with a rate of 17.5 per 1,000, leads the state. Among California’s ten most populous counties, only one (Santa Clara) posted a juvenile felony arrest rate above 10.

National data on juvenile justice does not break crimes up by felony and misdemeanor, because states differ on those categorizations. But the Juvenile Arrests 2011 report, published last year by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, shows that California is part of a broader downward trend in arrests for serious offenses.

A table on page four of that report notes a double-digit decrease between 2002 and 2011 in juvenile arrests for all felony-level crimes, with one notable exception: Robbery.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.