Masters Thesis

The Impact of Proposition 21 on juvenile crime rates in California

Juvenile crime in California is a costly burden that affects all Californians. It is an economic drain to public funds and it has an emotional impact on the juveniles who commit the crimes, the victims they hurt, the families of both, and the communities that have to see the crime unfold. California has reduced juvenile crime rates slightly from what they were two decades ago, but it still maintains rates above the national average. The juvenile justice system was founded on the principle of rehabilitation for all juvenile criminal offenders, but in 2000, Proposition 21 was passed which increased penalties for juveniles who committed felonies. It is important to do everything possible to help reduce these crime rates, so an assessment of the effects of Proposition 21 is necessary. This study will do two things. First, it will conduct literature review to develop a better understanding of this social issue and the most effective methods to relieving this problem. Secondly, an analysis of juvenile felony arrest rates for several categories and population trends from 1980-2008 will be conducted. The results will show that increased penalties for juvenile criminal offenders are not an effective deterrent to crime. The implications of this study is that a new, more effective, approach to dealing with juvenile crime is necessary.

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