California Arrests Plunge to Lowest Level Since 1957, With Largest Drop Among Juveniles

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Los Angeles County Sheriff's vehicle. Photo by Jason Lawrence via Flickr

California arrests have plunged to their lowest level since 1957.

According to the California Department of Justice, the rate of arrests for felony, misdemeanor and juvenile status offenses stood at 3,520 per 100,000 population aged 10 to 69 in 2018, the last year for which statistics were available.

The figure continues a downward trend that began well before the start of the “justice reform era in 2010,” and has accelerated since, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), a California-based research institute.

Since 1995, arrest rates have seen an average decline of 48 percent, the CJCJ said.

The most rapid decline in that period was among youth and young adults, with an 87 percent drop in arrests for those aged 10-14, 83 percent for ages 15-17, and 79 percent for ages 18-19.

“These trends continued during the justice reform era, when arrests declined by 75 percent among youth ages 17 or younger,” the CJCJ said.

Broken down by county, the decline varied considerably. Urban counries showed the largest rates of decline, reflecting lower levels of incarceration.

The figures contradict arguments by some critics that recent California policies aimed at reducing incarceration would increase crime levels, CJCJ sauid.

“If reforms themselves were promoting crime, we would expect higher levels of arrestand increasing arrest rates in countries that have been the greatest effects of reform, notably a reduction in incarceration,” said CJCJ.

“The opposite is true.”

To see the complete figures, please access the CJCJ fact sheet.

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