Why Juvenile Justice Systems Need Local Data

Local application of juvenile justice policies vary widely and understanding these trends is of fundamental importance to policymaking. Governors, legislators, stakeholders, and public watchdogs all use data to inform their understanding of the impact of a proposed law, as well as the effectiveness of the currently implemented system. The results of juvenile justice policy are far-reaching; therefore, it is critical that accurate and relevant data inform policy decisions. In California, 58 autonomous counties administer juvenile justice serving 99 percent of the state’s justice involved youth. The state’s role currently involves operating three dilapidated and isolated youth correctional facilities that house about 930 of California’s more high-need offenders.

How Bad is Teen Crime Really?

New research reveals crime involving adolescent offenders is declining. Trends show a dramatic decrease in teens committing the worst violent crimes over the last 10-15 years. And despite media reports focused on younger teens, the average age of the juvenile delinquent has steadily increased over the past three decades. Violent offenses committed by teens are more likely to be misdemeanors rather than felonies, according to a study done by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice: Teenage Criminals Getting Younger and Younger? Exposing Another Urban Legend.