Education Jail Juvenile Justice LAPD School to Prison Pipeline Youth at Risk

Arresting Kids Under 12, Hidden Costs of Running Jails, Pell Grants for Inmates, Body Cams, and Freddi Gray


Arrest rates for California’s kids under the age of twelve have experienced a steep decline over the last 30 years, according to a new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. The number of young arrestees dropped a whopping 93%. The decrease appears to be due, in part, to a drop in child crime between the late 70’s and now, but it may also be attributable to local efforts to decriminalize kids. Two cities, however, have not gotten their act together with regard to child and pre-teen arrests.

Statewide, almost 14,000 kids under twelve were arrested in 1978, nearly a third of whom were younger than ten. Thirty-five years later, in 2013, when the number of kids under twelve had risen by 40%, just under 1,400 kids younger than twelve (219 under ten) were arrested.

Most of California’s 58 counties mirrored the state trend, but eleven did not. Nine of those counties were tiny. No kids were arrested in those counties spanning the three decades. But two small counties experienced higher arrest rates, but those counties’ only arrested between zero and four kids. Stockton and the city of San Bernardino broke from the pack. In both cities, school district officers are allowed to arrest young kids, and they do arrest them—a lot. Stockton only has 1% of the state’s total number of kids under ten, those kids account for 26% of the state’s total arrests of kids in that age group.


The US spent $22.2 billion on jails in 2011. And that price tag is much lower than if it included costs not covered in the official jail budgets—for example, employee benefits, inmate health care, capital costs, administrative costs, legal costs, and inmate services—, according to a new survey and study from the Vera Institute of Justice.

Vera researchers surveyed 35 jail systems (including Alameda County) in 18 states, holding 9% of the US jail population. The study found that many jail systems had difficulty calculating the total cost (incurred by taxpayers) of running their jails. And if jails don’t track those costs, and taxpayers do not know how much they are truly spending on locking people up in local jails, and neither do the policymakers pushing criminal justice reform.

According to the Vera survey, eight of the jail systems spent non-budget dollars equaling more than 20% of their budget. Twelve of jail systems surveyed could not come up with their non-budget costs.

Here’s a clip from the study:

…in addition to the $1.1 billion spent by the City of New York Department of Correction in 2014, other city agencies spent an additional $1.3 billion for jail employee benefits, health care and education programs for incarcerated people, and administration, bringing the total cost to $2.4 billion.

Because reported jail costs are too often incomplete, policymakers and the public are seldom aware of the full extent of their community’s financial commitment to the jail. As policymakers focus on justice reform at the local level, they need to understand how much the community is actually spending. To this end, researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice developed a survey to help counties tally the actual price of their jails.

The only way to safely reduce the cost of jail is to limit the number of people in the jail, because the cost largely comprises expenses for staff and the number of staff is dictated by the population of incarcerated people. In fact, the inmate population is such a key cost driver that it is possible for “expensive” jails (meaning those with a high average per-inmate cost) to be the least costly to taxpayers.

Consider the example of two counties of similar size: Johnson County, Kansas, and Bernalillo, New Mexico. By comparing the average cost per inmate, the jail in Johnson County appears to be more than twice as expensive as the jail in Bernalillo County ($191.95 per day versus $85.63 per day in 2014). But taxpayers in Johnson County actually spend less on the jail than taxpayers in Bernalillo County do, because the incarceration rate in 2014 was more than three times lower (121 per 100,000 versus 369 per 100,000). As a result, the annual cost of jail in Johnson County is $49 million ($82 per county resident), versus $78 million ($113 per county resident) in Bernalillo County.


The US Department of Education is expected to lift a portion of a punitive 1994 ban on inmate eligibility for Pell Grants to attend college while they are behind bars.

A RAND study found that for every dollar spent on education for inmates, the state would save $5, and greatly reduce recidivism rates.

PBS’ Paul Fain has more on the issue, including what ending the Pell Grant ban would look like from a financial standpoint. Here’s a clip:

If the project is successful, it would add to momentum for the U.S. Congress to consider overturning the ban it passed on the use of Pell for prisoners in 1994.

“The idea is under consideration,” a department spokesperson said.

Sources said the Obama administration backs the experiment, and that it would be unveiled this summer.

A likely scenario would be for state and federal prison education programs from a handful of colleges to become eligible for Pell Grants. Various restrictions might apply, such as for participating students to be eligible only if they are scheduled for release within a specific number of years.

Even a limited experiment will provoke controversy. Spending government money on college programs for convicted criminals is an easy target for conservative pundits and for some lawmakers from both political parties.

For example, last year New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dropped his proposal to use state funds for prison education programs after the plan received immediate and fierce opposition.

Yet advocates for removing the federal ban point to evidence that supporting educational opportunities for prisoners pays off for students, for government coffers and for society on the whole.


Some Republican state lawmakers support prison education programs, experts said, because they like the clear return on investment.

“It is financially wise,” said John Dowdell, coeditor of The Journal of Correctional Education. “It’s time to get over the emotional bias and do what the data says.”


In LA and around the country, law enforcement agencies are purchasing and implementing police body cameras as a means of increasing accountability to the public. But so far, police forces (including the LAPD) have argued that privacy for both officers and the people they come in contact with, and maintaining investigation integrity, outweigh the public’s desire for department transparency.

In April, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that officers could review their body cam footage before writing reports. Chief Beck also said that for the most part, captured video will be treated as evidence, and will not be made public. (The LA County Sheriff’s Dept. requires the officers to provide statements before viewing footage.)

The LA Times’ Richard Winton sheds some light on the controversy and the difficulty in finding a middle ground. Here’s how it opens:

Cameras mounted inside patrol cars captured every moment.

With their guns drawn, Gardena police officers screamed instructions at three men on the sidewalk. The officers warned them to keep their hands above their heads, mistakenly believing that they had been involved in a robbery.

Exactly what happened next is in dispute, but what is undisputed is that the men were unarmed when police opened fire, killing one and seriously wounding another.

Afterward, the Gardena Police Department allowed the officers — over the objection of a sheriff’s investigator — to review video of the incident. But the department has refused to make the videos public, even after the city agreed to pay $4.7 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit over the shooting.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are equipping police and patrol cars with cameras to capture interactions between officers and the public. But many of those police forces, like Gardena’s, do not release the recordings to the public, citing concerns about violating the privacy of officers and others shown in the recordings and the possibility of interfering with investigations.

That approach has drawn criticism from some civil rights activists who say that the public release of recordings is crucial to holding police accountable — especially if the officers involved in the incidents are allowed to view the videos.

Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano defended his department’s position as consistent with that of other law enforcement organizations around the country. He added that it was intended to protect the integrity of investigations as well as the privacy of officers and those who come into contact with police.

“The general public does not have an unfettered right to see every video that is taken by law enforcement,” Medrano said in an email. “Thus, absent a court order to the contrary, many agencies across the country, including Gardena, do not intend to release videos to the public.”


On Thursday, a grand jury chose to indict six officers allegedly connected to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun has the story. Here’s how it opens:

Baltimore grand jury returned indictments against the six officers charged earlier this month in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Thursday.

Prosecutors presented evidence to the grand jury over the course of two weeks, Mosby said. Reckless endangerment charges were added against all six officers, while false imprisonment charges against three were removed. The remaining charges are largely the same ones her office filed May 1, following an independent investigation.

“As our investigation continued, additional information has been discovered, and as is often the case during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence,” Mosby said at a news conference.

The case now moves to Baltimore Circuit Court, where the officers will be arraigned July 2. All remain free on bail.

Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 after running from officers patrolling the Gilmor Homes area of West Baltimore. His death seven days later led to widespread protests that gave way to citywide rioting, deployment of the National Guard and institution of a curfew.

Thrust into a national debate over cases of police brutality, Mosby stunned many when she moved swiftly to bring charges against the officers that included second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.


  • Put body cams on parolees, maybe crime would really go down. You think GPS’s are foolproof, no way, they get taken off and manipulated all the time. Thought after this much time you’d have at least a word about the female Omaha officer murdered by yet another Black suspect (running over 60% this year that murder cops). Had a preemie baby that was coming home the next day but no social justice types will touch that I guess. The left, by and large, does not care about murdered cops Celeste, don’t pretend they do. It’s lip service and business as usual which is what did a White cop do to some poor Black felon.


    I somehow didn’t see the news about the death of Officer Orozco. Thank you for bringing it to all of our attention. I see that Officer Kerrie Orozco was killed in a shootout with a suspect the day that her premie daughter, Olivia Ruth, was set to leave the hospital and Officer Orozco was set to begin maternity leave. It’s just devastating.

    The more I read about this 29-year-old officer, and what kind of a person she was–on and off the job–the more devastating it becomes.


  • The major media did nothing here about reporting this story. Not a damn thing. More important to report every instance a White cop might do something wrong.

  • The major media is controlled and operated by whites. You get no opposition there.

    Don’t get caught up in the hype. Even your Social Justice groups are predominantly caucasian.

    You should fixate on crime itself and not have a stroke concentrating on one ethnic group.


    For the record, local media a did report on Officer Orozco’s death. In a quick search, I noted that ABC7, KTLA and FOX11 did, and there may have been more. Nationally, the TV networks covered it fairly extensively, as indeed they should have. I even saw some british news outlets that had stories.

  • Ok let me put it this way. You get a moment from these stations when a cop is killed. Compare that to when a suspect is killed by a cop. Especially a Black suspect by a White cop. You going to tell me the time spent is comparable? Don’t make me laugh and as the media is mostly run by libs doesn’t matter the color of those in charge.

  • The Brits constantly covered it better than we do on the Left Coast if it’s in other parts of the country. It’s the mindset here, the media here gives it lip service for the most part, a passing nod.

  • @Factoid, I’ve already posted on whose out there killing cops and over 60% of them this year are male Blacks. Where are the stories on that? 42% in 2012 and where I don’t have 2013/14 figures think they’re much different?

  • Sure Fire, your comment: “The left, by and large, does not care about murdered cops Celeste, don’t pretend they do.” I’m not sure how you determined that. Could I say the right does not care about the military because of the way Congress refuses to fund proper veteran’s care? I’m sure you will protest vociferously the idea. There is no “left,” or “right,” that exhibits the traits of an individual and we can ascribe thought and action like a person.

    In essence, your points are well pontificated 24/7 on rant radio, but reality is a different story.

  • Okay you guys the media is a business… They go with the story that keeps the publics interest..even if they have to pump it up a bit. For the most part a murdered cop is killed and buried in a few days. The media polks the flames of racial tensions to make money. Controversy sells. This particular blog may have financial support but I believe they have an ernest belief in social justice issues, even if they at time misguided.

  • We recently had 2 policemen killed in our area. They were ambushed. One was buried several hundred miles away. On his journey home the highways were filled with people of all race and age carrying our American flag. His procession was formed with police, sheriff deputies and highway patrol at least 100 law enforcement from different counties. The majority that lined the highways didn’t know this man but appreciated the fact he gave his life to make our home safe. Every person I was standing by was crying for a man they didn’t know. The media mentioned they were killed but they didn’t get the coverage that Freddie Gray received or the man in Ferguson. I watched the news last night and the Baltimore police have decided to go to work, put in 10 hours and if they see something turn their back. This is sad but the media and they Mayor turned this into a lynching before these 6 have had a trial. I don’t know the answer for law enforcement, their job was hard before killing cops became a sport. The media is responsible for sensationalizing the situation and giving The likes of Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and even our President air time to fuel these thugs. I don’t know if Baltimore police are right in turning their heads, but I do know that it has to change and feel they are supported from their superiors. Good luck to you all that serve and know there are a lot of people that support your work for afar.

  • @LATBG, oh please, I’m a vet as well as retired cop, want to argue what the left does compared to the right for our troops, especially this fraud of a president and just recently including rules of engagement…bring it. Know what’s in the bills you speak of, I read everything and I’m not blind.

  • @13) Deepest Sympathies to my Law Enforcement Brothers in the South. Hopefully you L.E. brothers in the south have a police union that backs ALL of your officers.
    Here out West, in Los Angeles County, the Sheriff’s Union, ALADS & PPOA (association’s as we call them) are the worst. Greed and Attitude has divided everyone involved.
    Maybe you can shed some light as to what makes your union work. Yes even the largest Sheriff’s Department and Associations(sheriffs) in the nation can learn some simple and basic lessons in unity. Obama or Holder can’t be blamed for the Cop vs.Cop mentality that we have here, including our last scandal.

  • Surefire……you state in #8 that you don’t have figures for 2013/14.
    Where did you get your data from for 2012? Maybe a follow-up with that same source could assist you.

  • There were at least two different articles that came out after Ferguson on the 2012 figures after the Ferguson debacle. The problem is the FBI doesn’t give out these stats, I’m sure for political reasons. Not sure they ever have. This years figures are easy enough to get but no reason to doubt the 2012 figures, they were main stream outlets and nobody had challenged them when I saw them. The way to assure they’re right is to go case by case which would take me the weekend but what’s the need? I don’t make things up, why would I? Why do I need an assist? In a recent MSNBC article they talk about cops killed this year but of course don’t mention the race of the suspects killing them, but at the bottom of the article talk of how many Blacks cops are killing. I hate the left and here’s the link. Any reason for that to be in the article and not speak of who it is that are murdering cops?

  • @ moi Thanks for portal of recorded unbiased information.
    Ironic how actual and factual statistics DIFFER from angry individuals void of credibility who are caught up in their feelings, attempting to push their own agenda.

  • So looking at all these charts you have over 40% of the felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in the last decade at the hands of Black suspects who make up 13% of the population and less than 40% of the prison population and like I said, over 60% are murdering cops this year. I put that right on the shoulders of this administration and the left who have blamed cops way more than anyone with any logic could if they took into account the actual amount of interactions cops have with citizens, especially the asshole types, in the inner cities and crime ridden neighborhoods of this country which pretty much are a creation of the idiotic policies of the left not cops.

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