Youth Incarceration Rate At Historic Low

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(Sacramento, Ca)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The study by the non-partisan Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice finds that over the past twenty years the rate of juveniles going to jail fell by nearly 50 percent.  At the same time, the report finds that juvenile felony crime rates fell by 58 percent. Senior Research fellow Mike Males says that’s unusual:

“These two trends have really never gone together before.  The whole theory has been that you lock up the bad guys and the crime rate goes down.  We’ve never seen a situation where you have more youth on the street than ever before, at the same time that we have the youth crime rate at its lowest level ever.”

Males says there’s no good explanation for it – other than perhaps a generational difference.  He adds that over the same time period, the adult imprisonment rate has increased by 500 percent.  It’s worth noting that the Center’s mission includes reducing incarceration.