Because Adolescents Matter Now

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Juvenile Justice

Contact with the juvenile justice system is often the result of engagement in risky or delinquent behaviors, such as substance use or violence.  Youth engagement in delinquent or criminal behaviors is influenced by complex personal, community, social and economic factors. In California, the rates of juvenile crime has been decreasing and reached a historical low  in 2009, the year for which there is the most recent data.  That year there were 115,951 misdemeanor and 58,555 felony arrests of 10-17 year olds (1).  This number parallels decreasing rates of violent and property crimes in California.  Most youth who are arrested are placed on probation, but a recent estimate indicates that there is a daily average population of about 6,000 youth in county or state facilities (1).

There continue to be disparities in who is represented in the juvenile justice system: boys vs. girls (however, the number of girls is growing more rapidly than the number of boys), youth of color, LGBT youth, and youth in foster care (2, 3).  This indicates that these adolescents disproportionately experience the social and economic factors associated with increased risk of contact with and the impact of being involved the juvenile justice system.  A high percentage of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced some form of trauma, such as violence in their community or physical or sexual abuse (4).  Youth who are in juvenile facilities may have limited opportunities to continue their education and may experience discrimination or violence from other youth or facility staff.

Learn More

Data and research are essential tools for raising awareness of adolescent health issues, to plan programs and service delivery, and to formulate policy at the state and local levels. CAHC is committed to maintaining a website that serves as a gateway to a wide array of resources, and regularly updating our site to include the most up-to-date research. Direct links are provided when possible, and abstracts are provided for journal articles.

Navigate to the upper right hand corner of this page for a more in-depth look at this health topic. Sections include research, resources, and youth voices.

Please contact us if you have additional information you think should be included.


(1) Krisberg, B., Voung, L. Hartney, Cl., Marchionna, S. A New Era in California Juvenile Justice: Downsizing the State Youth Corrections System. Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, University of California, Berkeley, National Counsel for Crime and Delinquency, October, 2010.

(2) Gender Responsiveness and Equity in California’s Juvenile Justice System. Juvenile Justice Policy Brief Series.  Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, University of California, Berkeley, August 2010.

(3) LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.  The National Center for Lesbian Rights, June 2006.

(4) Ford, J., Chapman, J., Hawke, J., Albert, D. Trauma Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Critical Issues and New Directions.  National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, June 2007.