California Juvenile Justice Data 2011: Decline in Reliance on State Youth Facilities

May 30, 2013

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has compiled a wealth of statistics detailing the different levels at which California's 58 counties send their residents to correctional institutions. Explore the interactive map to view population-adjusted rates of adult and juvenile arrests and incarcerations.

The 2011 juvenile justice data showw a continued trend away from state confinement and towards community-based options for high-needs youth. The new data provides a visual tool for understanding and monitoring county juvenile justice practices.

In its 9th year of court-mandated reform efforts, the state’s youth correctional facilities (Division of Juvenile Facilities, DJF) have become an expensive institutional system with low rehabilitative success rates, for youth who have committed serious and violent offenses. In California, over 99 percent of justice-involved youth are served locally, and county admissions to DJF declined to 474 in 2011 and continue downwards.

In 2012, California Governor Brown passed measures that further reduce the state’s institutional population, including a per ward annual fee of $24,000, changing the maximum age of jurisdiction to 23 from 25, and eliminating the use of time-adds to increase a youth’s sentence.

In 2013 the Governor intends to cut DJF’s budget to match declining population projections, and absorb the savings into the budget deficit. However, many counties have demonstrated a need for assistance in developing suitable programming for their high-needs youth, a need that requires additional resources and oversight.

Data-driven research is crucial to analyzing criminal and juvenile justice policy. In California, statewide appointed governmental bodies compile and maintain data that are regularly relied upon by local government, the legislature, state and federal agencies, and other criminal justice stakeholders.

Improved data collection and accessibility is essential to California as it continues to pursue justice reform. Currently counties do not uniformly collect data on their local justice systems, and statewide agencies do not provide full access to their redacted data files. Other agencies, such as California’s Center for Health Statistics are already providing this level of transparency and accountability through publicly available electronic database systems. These data hold valuable information for strategies towards greater public safety locally, as well as that of California and the nation.