Juvenile Arrests Drop 20 Percent In California After Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Juvenile arrests in California dropped 20 percent between 2010 and 2011 to the lowest recorded level since the state started compiling statistics in 1954, according to new statistics compiled by the Center on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. All categories of crime fell, but marijuana arrests declined a precipitous 61 percent after the passage of a 2010 state law that made possession of less than one ounce of marijuana an infraction rather than a misdemeanor, meaning it is treated like a traffic ticket and subject to a fine of up to $100. State lawmakers passed the decriminalization measure in 2010 just a month before the state’s ballot initiative to legalize marijuana failed. Unlike the new Washington and Colorado laws legalizing and regulating marijuana for those 21 and older, the decriminalization measure applies equally to juveniles, a characteristic touted by Mike A. Males, the author of the Center on Criminal and Juvenile Justice report.