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California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Reports High Recidivism Despite Surging Costs

CJCJ's new fact sheet finds that the costs of confining youth in California’s state youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), are expected to climb to $271,318 per youth. According to the data, DJJ’s per capita costs have increased each year since FY 2011-12. Despite rising spending per youth, the most recent DJJ recidivism report reveals persistently high rates of re-arrest, reconviction, and returns to state custody, suggesting deficiencies in DJJ’s rehabilitative programming.

DJJ cost per youth, actual (FY 2008-09—FY 2015-16), and expected (FY 2016-17)

  The fact sheet findings include: 

  • Confining youth in California’s state correctional facilities will cost an estimated $271,318 per youth in FY 2016-17.
  • DJJ’s cost per youth has increased annually since FY 2011-12. For the last three fiscal years, the state has spent approximately a quarter of a million dollars annually for each youth at DJJ.
  • Counties only reimburse the state for a small share of DJJ costs (an estimated 9 percent) for youth who are adjudicated in juvenile court. The remaining costs, and full costs for youth prosecuted as adults, are transferred to taxpayers.
  • The most recent three-year recidivism rates for youth released from DJJ are high and reported inconsistently. In early 2017, DJJ released a report showing 74.2 percent of youth were re-arrested, 53.8 percent were reconvicted of new offenses, and 37.3 percent had returned to state custody within three years of release from DJJ.

Read the full fact sheet >>

Contact: For more information about this report or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice at or (415) 621-5661 x 121. 

Keywords: budget, cost of confinement, costs, Division of Juvenile Justice, DJJ, fact sheet, Maureen Washburn, publication, recidivism, spending, youth incarceration

Posted in Publications, Correctional Institutions, Juvenile Justice

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