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Fact Sheet: California's Youth and Young Adult Arrest Rates Continue a Historic Decline

CJCJ's new fact sheet shows that, in 2015, California saw another year of decreased youth and young adult arrests, indicating positive arrest trends will continue as young people reach adulthood. While the causes of these declines are unknown, falling youth arrests rates coupled with decreased youth incarceration suggest that high rates of incarceration are not required to protect public safety. 

Trends in the arrest rates of Californians under age 25, 1978-2015

Sources: California Department of Justice. Note: Population for youth ages 10-11 are used to calculate rates for the under age 12 category.

  • Youth and young adult arrests fell from 2014 to 2015. The total arrest rate of young people under age 25 fell by 8 percent (31,500 arrests) between 2014 and 2015, to 66 percent (415,000 arrests) below the level reported in 1978.
  • Felony arrest rates for youth and young adults fell by 42 percent from 2010 to 2015. Recent reforms may have contributed to sharp declines in felony drug and property arrests of young Californians (e.g. marijuana decriminalization, Proposition 47). Other arrests, including violent felony arrests, also declined between 2010 and 2015.
  • Arrest rates for the youngest Californians are declining most rapidly. Arrest rates for youth under 12 and ages 12 to 14 fell by 95 percent and 82 percent, respectively, since 1978. 
  • Decreases in youth and young adult arrests contribute to reduced detention and incarceration. The population of the state’s youth correctional facilities, the Division of Juvenile Justice, has declined by more than 90 percent since 1996. The average daily populations at county juvenile facilities have fallen from over 13,000 in 2005 to approximately 6,300 in 2015 (about 52 percent).

Read the full fact sheet >>

For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with the authors, or individuals with experience on this matter, please contact CJCJ Communications at (415) 621-5661 x 121 or

Keywords: arrest, confinement, crime trends, DJJ, fact sheet, felony arrest, incarceration, juvenile halls, Juvenile justice, Mike Males, publication, report, transitional-aged youth, young adult, youth arrest, youth crime, youth trends

Posted in Publications, Juvenile Justice

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