In a departure from expected trends, a study says California’s juvenile incarceration rate and juvenile crime rate have both dropped dramatically, says the Sacramento Bee. “It’s astonishing,” said Dan Macallair of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice and a study authors. “Because the general assumptions driving criminal justice policy for the last 30 years have been, ‘If you have more people in prison, you have less crime on the streets.’ And clearly, that’s not the case.” Commitments to the state’s juvenile correctional facilities have dropped this year to 65 per 100,000 youths — the lowest rate in 47 years.
The drop comes despite a more than double population increase in the same time period, and it coincides with the lowest 2004 juvenile arrest rate in more than three decades. “We have seen a failed experiment in public safety,” said. Assemblyman Mark Leno, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. The study coincides with a political push to overhaul the state’s overstressed prison system, which has swollen to accommodate about 171,000 prisoners –twice its capacity — and is under the oversight of a court-appointed special master. Adult incarceration and arrest rates also showed no correlation: Both rose significantly over the past several decades, said the study, which used data compiled from two state departments.