While public attention has focused in recent years on startling changes in California's prison system, the transformation of the youth correctional system has been even more dramatic, reports the Capitol Weekly. California, which just a few years ago had 11 state juvenile prisons, now has three. The number of youth offenders sent to state lockups has dropped by 90 percent during the past two decades, from down from about 10,000 in 1996 to less than 800 today.
“Youth crime in California is at a 40-year low. Looking at the statistics you could argue this is the best-behaved generation on record. Now why that is, we don't know,” said Daniel Macallair, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. “Sociologists and criminologists haven't explained it; all we know is that it's happening.”