Arrest Rates from 1980 to 2015
California law enforcement agencies report to the California Department of Justice information on felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests, and juvenile status arrests (e.g., curfew violations) occurring within the state. This Monthly Arrest and Citation Register (MACR) data includes details of the arrest (date, offense, arrest), basic demographic information of the individual arrested, and limited information on the law enforcement disposition of the arrest. These pages present an in-depth analysis of the 67.5 million arrests for the years 1980 through 2015.
- In 2015, there were 1.42 million total arrests, at a rate of 3,641 arrests per 100,000 residents.
- Since 1990, misdemeanor arrest rates have steadily declined while felony arrests slightly decreased.
- Males in their early twenties were three times more likely to be arrested than females in the same age group. Blacks were the most likely to be arrested at any age, most notably between 18 and 40 years of age.
- Since 1989, the reduction in arrest rates mainly occurred for those in their twenties.
How have arrest rates changed over time?
From 1980 to 1989, the arrest rates rose; since 1990, misdemeanor arrests fell steadily while felony arrests slightly decreased. (Over that same time period, the reported property and violent crime rates both fell by almost half.)
Misdemeanor Arrests and Felony Arrests per 100,000 Residents, 1980 through 2015
How have felony arrest rates changed over time?
Property arrest rates dropped dramatically over the past 35 years. Drug arrest rates spiked in the late 1980s and fell afterwards. Violent crime arrest rates rose in the early 1990s but are now below 1980 levels.
How have misdemeanor arrest rates changed over time?
Misdemeanor arrest rates for adults and juveniles declined since 1980, falling by more than 50%.
What was the sex of those arrested?
Males made up just over 80% of all arrests from 1980 to 2015. However, the percentage of males has steadily been dropping with males comprising 86% of the arrest population in 1980 and 76% in 2015.
What was the race/ethnicity of those arrested?
Not every individual who is arrested has committed a crime and not all individuals who committed a crime are arrested. From 2005 to 2013, Hispanics made up just over 42% of all arrestees and 37% of the total state population; Whites made up 35% of all arrestees and 41% of the population; Blacks made up 17% of all arrestees and 6% of the population; Asian/Pacific Islanders made up 3% of those arrested and 13% of the population; Native Americans made up 0.5% of both those arrested and the population.
What was the age breakdown of those arrested by race/ethnicity and sex?
Males in their early twenties were three times more likely to be arrested than females in the same age group. Blacks were the most likely to be arrested at any age, most notably between 18 and 40 years of age. Asian/Pacific Islanders had the lowest arrest rates. For all groups, arrest rates began to rise during adolescence and peaked during their early twenties.
Age-Arrest Rate Profiles by Race/Ethnicity, 2013 Male & Female
How has the reduction in arrest rates impacted people of different ages?
Since 1989, the reduction in arrest rates mainly occurred for those in their twenties. Starting in 1990, there were sizable declines in arrest rates for those under 40 years of age; between 2000 and 2013 there were notable declines in arrest rates for those under 20 years of age. In 2013, there were actually higher arrest rates for females over 25 years old while arrest rates declined for all male age groups.