Back in 1998, there were 19,000 youths confined to youth correctional facilities or juvenile halls, ranches, and camps throughout the state of California. Fast forward to 2010, and this number has plunged to 10,500. During this time period, the number of California's adolescent youth population ages 10-17 has grown by 380,000. As many crime theories and speculations go, it would seem that the presence of more youths on the street would lead to an increase in the juvenile crime wave, but this has not been so.
In fact, California's rate of juvenile crimes plunged down to 52,000 in 2010, which is far below the 76,100 felony arrests in California in 1998. Additionally, the number of youth who were incarcerated in Los Angeles County in 2010 was nearly 50% lower than it was in1998. As the Criminal Justice Statistics Center and other law enforcement agencies began to investigate this phenomenon, they found that one reason may be because more youths in public places contributes to lower crime rates. Another reason for this decrease in juvenile crime rates is because of the Schiff-Cardenas Crime Prevention Act (Assembly Bill [AB] 1913) that the California state legislature passed back in 2000. This Act authorized funding for county juvenile justice programs which have proven to be effective in curbing crime among juvenile probationers and young at-risk offenders.
The RAND organization also received funding from the Los Angeles County Probation Department to evaluate the county's application of the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act. There are six specific outcome measures that are evaluated in each annual report from Los Angeles County's JJCPA program, and these measures include the following:
- Successful completion of probation
- Probation violations
- Successful completion of restitution
- Successful completion of community service
The Los Angeles JJCPA program received $22.1 million in funding for the fiscal year 2010-2011, and 36,749 youth received these services during this year. The estimated cost of each of these participants was around $602, and was affected by the economic recession.
The City of Los Angeles has also made recent movements to change laws for some of the juvenile arrests and fines that are given for minor and even insignificant actions. The Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee voted in February of 2012 to end the city's daytime curfew ordinance and drop the large fines imposed on students who were tardy to school. Students throughout Los Angeles had frequently complained of the $250 truancy fines and additional court fees that they face when they were late for school. Now, instead of paying fines and having to go to court, these students are given the option of attending counseling. These are just some of the positive changes we have seen that protect juveniles' rights in Los Angeles over the years. Call our Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense lawyers at Lessem & Newstat to learn more about how to protect your rights from juvenile charges.