Rates of Arrest for Youth and Young Adults in California Continue Downward Trend

According to new analysis of state data by a Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) researcher, rates of arrest for California youth and young adults declined again in 2015, continuing a steady decline over the past several decades.

Using data from the California Department of Justice and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CJCJ Senior Research Fellow Mike Males noted an 8 percent drop in the total arrest rate for young people under the age of 25 in 2015. That number represents 31,500 fewer arrests in 2015 compared with 2014.

Other prominent findings include the following:

  • Felony arrest rates decreased by 42 percent from 2010 to 2015. While state policy changes — such as the decriminalization of marijuana and the implementation of Proposition 47 — may be contributing to a lower arrest rate, Males says that arrest for more violent or serious offenses not addressed by these criminal-justice reforms have also declined in recent years.
  • Arrest rates for the youngest youth in the state have shrunk the most since 1978. The rate at which youth under the age of 12 have been arrested has dropped by 95 percent; for youth ages 12 to 14, the number of arrests has declined by 82 percent.
  • Decreasing arrest rates have led to smaller populations at juvenile correctional facilities in California. Population at the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice facilities has fallen off by more than 90 percent since 1996 while the number of youth at county juvenile probation facilities like juvenile halls and camps has been more than halved from over 13,000 in 2005 to about 6,300 in 2015.

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John Kelly
About John Kelly 1128 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.