Does more "youth on the streets" mean more crime?

With a growing youth and immigrant population, one could expect an increase in local crime rates. However, this is often not true. In this short video, CJCJ senior research fellow Mike Males explains why California's crime rate is going down (even with increasing diversity and a large youth population) and why he is optimistic for the future of the golden state's juvenile justice system.

In a recently release policy brief, Dr. Males goes into more detail on the actual numbers of incarcerated youth in California: 

In 1998, California had 19,000 youths confined to youth correctional facilities or county managed juvenile halls, ranches, and camps; in 2010, just 10,500. During that same period, California’s adolescent youth population age 10-17 grew by 380,000. By every crime theory, the presence of nearly 400,000 more youths on the streets, including 8,000 adolescent felons who would have been  confined a decade prior, should have led to a mammoth juvenile crime wave.
Instead, California’s juvenile crime rate plunged as never before, from 76,100 felony arrests in 1998 to 52,000 in 2010; the lowest rate of serious crime among youths since statewide statistics were first collected in 1954.

For more on deincarceration in California, read this excellent post by Selena Teji.

Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets at @LizSF.

Updated: February 08 2018