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California's Arrest Rate Falls to Record Low in Justice Reform Era (2011-2018)

SAN FRANCISCO – January 8, 2020 – A new fact sheet from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice shows continued declines in California’s arrest rate during the state’s justice reform era, a period marked by large-scale criminal and juvenile justice reforms. This publication draws on recently released statistics from the California Department of Justice showing that decades-long declines in arrests have continued into 2018.

California arrests per 100,000 population by age group, 1995-2018

The fact sheet finds:

  • The overall arrest rate in California has fallen by 26 percent since 2010. Just one-fifth of this decline is due to reductions in arrests for marijuana following its decriminalization and legalization.

  • Most counties (45 out of 58) showed declines in arrest rates during the justice reform era, suggesting that new statewide policies have not interrupted California’s pattern of declining arrests.

  • The steepest declines in arrests occurred among youth under 18. Since 2010, juvenile arrests have fallen by 75 percent, far outpacing declines among adults. At the start of the justice reform era, youth and adults were being arrested at roughly similar rates, but by 2018, the youth arrest rate had fallen to just over one-quarter of the adult rate.

  • Arrest declines were greatest in regions with lower rates of incarceration. Urban counties had greater declines in both arrest and incarceration compared to rural counties, while coastal counties maintained lower levels of arrest and incarceration than inland counties.

Read the full fact sheet >> 

For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact CJCJ Communications at (415) 621-5661 x. 103 or

Keywords: crime trends, justice reform, Mike Males

Posted in Publications

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