Good news largely ignored E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

There's a certain type of person who will believe that the world is going to hell in a hand basket no matter what the numbers say. The ranting and railing is usually accompanied by stories of how things were "back in my day." You hear a lot these days about declining moral values, the breakdown of the "traditional family," and other signs of social and moral decay frequently from older folks.

But a cold look at the numbers suggests that we might not be approaching hell in our hand basket at all.

Not only has a lot of hard and smart work by public safety professionals kept crime at remarkably low levels for decades, it appears that today's young people don't have the same appetite for crime that their predecessors did.

For instance in California, new data shows youth crime in that state is at a record low.

Figures released by the Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Statistics Center show last year that fewer minors were arrested in California than at any time since 1957.

Throw in the fact that California had three million fewer teenagers back then and you've got a truly positive trend. Many law enforcement officials credit better policing techniques as well as diversion programs for "at risk" teens.

In the last decade there has been a 36 percent drop in violent crime among youths in California and Kern County is showing a similar trend.

The Kern County District Attorney's office says last year it saw about a 40 percent drop in juvenile case referrals compared to about four years ago.

"It is a little less case work in juvenile and we are now able to focus our resources on more serious crimes," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pafford. Many officials say prison diversion programs like the EDGE program have made a huge difference.

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