Santa Cruz County tries more juveniles as adults

Study points to one California County as havng a disproportionate amount of juveniles being tried as adults

Santa Cruz County in California is trying more youth as adults in the court system. Photo via Penny Mathews.

A new study by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in California suggests that Santa Cruz County, compared to other counties in California, is more likely to try juvenile offenders as “adults” for severe crimes. The study aims at studying the effects of Proposition 21 on Californian society.

Proposition 21 was passed in the year 2002. It gives prosecutors – when faced with an issue of a serious crime involving a minor – the power to move the juvenile case to an adult court. Among many other provisions, it also seeks to weaken the confidentiality rights of minors involved in serious crimes.

The study reveals the following statistics: Prosecutors filed more than 4,042 cases in the six year period of 2003-2009. Santa Cruz County had filed direct cases at the rate of 31.4 per 1,000 cases – the state average being 25.4 per 1,000.

Primarily aimed at putting a stop to youth gang violence, the report suggests that Prosecution 21 has had no “demonstrable” effect on youth crime rates. The report came up with a curious revelation: the 28 counties that used the law at lower-than-average rates showed a significant reduction in youth crimes, as compared to the 30 counties that used it at higher-than-average rates!

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