California juvenile arrests continue to decline, per new report

FILE PHOTO: A witness inside a patrol car identifies a juvenile suspect detained by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies on Nearbrook Street near Soledad Canyon Road on April 6, 2017. Austin Dave/The Signal

Since 2007, juvenile arrests have set record lows statewide and across the Santa Clarita Valley as they follow a pattern of steady decline, according to a new report from the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ).

Created by CJCJ’s Senior Research Fellow Mike Males, the report and fact sheet found that California’s youth ages 10 to 17 are no longer considered to be a high-crime demographic.

“These findings show each generation of California youth, from Generation X onward, has lowered the state’s rate of youth arrest and contributed to increased public safety,” Males wrote in the report.

Based on statistics from the California Department of Justice—which were reported to the state by local law enforcement agencies—the study evaluated youth arrest rates and rates for types of crime from 1957 to 2016.

The report found that total arrests of California youth declined by 13 percent, or by 9,180 arrests, in 2015 compared to 2016.

It also found a similar trend for youth arrests for violent crimes including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and kidnapping, which have fallen to 73 percent below the 1990 rate and 68 percent below the 1975 rate.

Millennials have the lowest juvenile arrest rates of any generation, with only 5 percent of those under 18 years old and born between 1982 and 2004 arrested annually, according to the fact sheet.

A fact sheet and report from the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ)’s Senior Research Fellow Mike Males comparing juvenile arrests among different generations.

The statewide trends also mirror those of the Santa Clarita Valley, with juvenile arrests for felonies and misdemeanors at an all-time low for the past 20 years, according to data from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

In 2016, there were 342 juvenile arrests reported from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.  Of these arrests 79 were felonies and 293 were misdemeanors.

The numbers are significantly lower than those in 2007—the highest reported juvenile arrest year of the past 20 years—when the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station reported 1,980 juvenile arrests.  Of these arrests, 368 were felonies and 1,612 were misdemeanors.

Over the years the numbers have ebbed and flowed in the area, with rates slightly declining in the early-2000s before plateauing in 2007 and then steadily declining.

CJCJ attributes this steady decline in juvenile arrests to two factors: California’s justice reform era and youth education.

“Though the specific cases remain unknown, the massive decline in youth and young adult crime is associated with increase educational attainment among younger Californians,” the study read.  “This indicates investments in education, rather than increased detention, is a more promising approach.”

In the Santa Clarita Valley, deputies actively work with youth convicted of crimes and youth in schools to teach them about the dangers and consequences of making poor choices.

“We do outreach with the kids, I do specific stuff for drug offenders,” said Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Detective William Velek, who is a member of the juvenile drug diversion and intervention team.  “Any time that are drug offenders on campus I get an audience with them and we talk about in general what that means and how that affects you.”

The station also has six School Resource Officers (SROs) that are assigned to all of the area’s high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools.

“The school deputies do a presentation every year at the schools where they talk about things they would do to get in trouble and how to avoid those things,” Velek said.  “The SROs are part of those conversations when they [students] are pulled in to the principal’s office… and do those one-on-one counseling sessions with them.”

Santa Clarita Valley Juvenile Arrests, 1996-2016:
Information gathered from

  • 2016: 342 total arrests
    • 79 felonies and 263 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2015: 439 total arrests
    • 100 felonies and 339 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2014: 462 total arrests
    • 175 felonies and 287 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2013: 515 arrests
    • 151 felonies and 364 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2012: 633 total arrests
    • 223 felonies and 410 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2011: 1,086 total arrests
    • 304 felonies and 782 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2010: 1,421 total arrests
    • 402 felonies and 1,019 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2009: 1,404 total arrests
    • 385 felonies and 1,019 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2008: 1,819 total arrests
    • 445 felonies and 1,374 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2007: 1,980 total arrests
    • 368 felonies and 1,612 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2006: 1,724 total arrests
    • 368 felonies and 1,356 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2005: 1,412 total arrests
    • 334 felonies and 1,078 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2004: 1,206 total arrests
    • 271 felonies and 935 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2003: 947 total arrests
    • 293 felonies and 654 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2002: 846 total arrests
    • 315 felonies and 531 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2001: 811 total arrests
    • 350 felonies and 461 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 2000: 786 total arrests
    • 343 felonies and 443 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 1999: 1,047 total arrests
    • 426 felonies and 621 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 1998: 1,208 total arrests
    • 449 felonies and 759 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 1997: 1,055 total arrests
    • 345 felonies and 710 misdemeanors/noncriminal
  • 1996: 887 total arrests
    • 336 felonies and 551 misdemeanors/noncriminal

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