Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not Exactly The Blackboard Jungle

The California Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center released some interesting numbers for last year. Juvenile arrests are down by 20%, the lowest they've been since they started keeping track in 1954.

And we're talking across the board here. Homicides, rapes, violent assaults, property crime, the works. Drug arrests dropped a whopping 47% in the last year.

The report cites several possible reasons, but here's the one that really jumps out. Pot laws.

See, back in 2010 California passed SB 1449, which changed the laws around possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor requiring an arrest, court date, jail time, etc. into (in most circumstances) an infraction.

You know, a ticket.

The effect?
The 2011 reform did reduce youth marijuana possession arrests by 61% in one year, from nearly 15,000 in 2010 to 5,800 in 2011, reducing overall drug and total arrests in tandem.
61%. Imagine that.

Now there are all sorts of arguments around this. It really depends on whether you see marijuana as the blight on society the same way Nixon did. I mean, technically, nothing's changed in the behavior. The kids are still getting high on reefer and listening to that devil jazz, or whatever the hell kids do when they're lighting up. Play the piano scene from Reefer Madness on an endless loop? Fuck, I don't know.

But a drop in arrests of 61% is important. That's 61% fewer kids sitting in a County jail cell. That's 61% fewer kids getting run through the state court system. That's 61% fewer kids learning to be better criminals in jail, or getting preyed upon by other inmates. That's 61% fewer kids finding out their lives are screwed before they even started.

And it's cheaper for the state. You want change? Hit the wallet. That almighty bottom line drives everything.