A research brief just published by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice examines why the serious crime rates among youth in California have dropped substantially in recent years. Although logic suggests that drug crime rates would fall with the changes in drug laws, the crime rates for violent and property felonies, homicide, and misdemeanors in general also decreased.
Overall, California serious youth crime rates have fallen faster than national rates in the last 40 years.
The researchers were only able to positively correlate the crime decline with two factors: (1) the 2011 change in marijuana law, downgrading low-level possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction; and (2) improvements in the economic well-being of California’s youth. Even these correlations though were moderate. This suggests that policy-makers need to re-think “the often emotional and increasingly unfounded rhetoric now used to characterize young people, violence, and crime.” In particular, California’s drop in youth crime shows “that contrary to conventional notions, more youth and increasing racial and ethnic diversity do not lead to more crime” because California has the most diverse youth population and now has the lowest offense level ever reliably calculated.
For the full brief click: CA_Youth_Crime_2011.
The truth is that many factors influence youth propensity to commit crime and many factors may make legal intervention more or less successful. For those with a child or teen that has already been arrested and is involved in the justice system, contacting an experienced juvenile attorney may make the difference in getting them back on track.