Youth crime on the de­cline

Dept. of Jus­tice data shows ju­ve­nile ar­rests trend­ing down; year-over-year stats re­port 13 per­cent drop

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Christina Cox Sig­nal Staff Writer

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

The re­port and fact sheet by CJCJ Se­nior Re­search Fel­low Mike Males found 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.

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 drug of­fend­ers are on cam­pus I get an au­di­ence with them and we talk about in gen­eral what that means and how that af­fects you.”

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