Attorney General Bonta Releases 2020 California Criminal Justice Statistics Reports
Highlights 10 new dashboards to help increase the accessibility of state criminal justice data
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today released four annual reports — as well as 10 new data dashboards — that provide the public with statewide data on criminal justice statistics in California. The reports, as well as the data behind each report, are available on OpenJustice, a data-driven initiative that works to increase access to criminal justice data and support the development of public policy. The information contained in the reports reflects statistics for 2020 as submitted by California law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice entities. In reviewing the reports, readers should be mindful of the potential effects of the pandemic on the data, which significantly impacted daily life in California and across the world.
“Having access to good data is critical for making good public policy,” said Attorney General Bonta. “That’s true no matter what the statistics show. And, while violent crime rates are still well below their historical highs in the early 90s, the increases we’ve seen during this pandemic are unacceptable. In California and across the country, gun violence in particular continues to be a uniquely American health crisis. I applaud President Biden for putting forward a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to gun crime and ensure public safety at the federal level. It’s going to take all of us working together to tackle this challenge, but I’m confident that — through violence intervention programs, community partnership, economic investment, restorative justice, and strategic deployment of law enforcement — we can get the job done. I encourage all members of the public to take a hard, careful look at this year’s reports to help us all better forge a path forward together.”
The criminal justice reports and supporting data published by the California Department of Justice provide key findings, data visualizations, and downloadable datasets. The reports are updated annually on the Attorney General’s OpenJustice platform. The Attorney General encourages researchers, academics, and all members of the public to analyze the data and use it to help inform public discourse on the state’s criminal justice system. Careful and thoughtful analysis of the data is more important than ever as the state begins to emerge from a once-in-a-century pandemic. However, whether, how, and to what extent the pandemic influenced the data in these reports are questions requiring research and careful study. Ultimately, by driving research, reporting, and conversation, the reports and the OpenJustice platform can help Californians better understand the connections between our everyday lives and the criminal justice system. Along with guidance for law enforcement and resources for members of the public, the hate crimes report was released on Wednesday.
The reports released today are:
- Crime in California
- Homicide in California
- Juvenile Justice in California
- Use of Force Incident Reporting
In addition to the reports, the California Department of Justice is releasing 10 new dashboards to provide an in-depth look into the data on crime, homicide, and juvenile justice in California. These new tools are in addition to other, interactive dashboards already on the OpenJustice platform that make California’s criminal justice data easier to directly analyze online. Specifically, the new dashboards share statistics on arrests, arrest dispositions, crimes and clearances, civilian complaints, death in custody, domestic violence, law enforcement officers killed or assaulted, violent crimes against senior citizens, homicide, and juvenile justice.
Key findings from each of the four criminal justice statistics reports released today and a brief, partial description of their contents are available below:
Crime in California 2020 presents statewide statistics for reported crimes, arrests, dispositions of adult felony arrests, adult probation, criminal justice personnel, civilians’ complaints against peace officers, domestic violence-related calls for assistance, anti-reproductive-rights crimes, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. Some of the key facts from 2019 to 2020 include:
- The violent crime rate increased 0.8%;
- The property crime rate decreased 7.7%;
- The homicide rate increased 31%;
- The percentage of convictions resulting in incarceration in a state institution have increased from 17.2% to 21.2%; and
- The total number of domestic violence-related calls for assistance involving a firearm rose from 1,388 in 2019 to 1,974, an increase of 42%.
Homicide in California 2020 provides information about the crime of homicide, including demographic data of victims, persons arrested for homicide, persons sentenced to death, peace officers feloniously killed in the line of duty, and justifiable homicides. Some key facts from 2019 to 2020 include:
- Homicides rose from 1,679 to 2,202, an increase of 31.1%;
- Of the homicides where the victim’s race or ethnicity was identified:
- 45.3% were Hispanic;
- 30.7% were black;
- 16.4% were white; and
- 7.5% were of other race or ethnic groups;
- Firearms continue to be the most common weapon used in homicides, with 74.2% of homicides, where the weapon was identified, involving a firearm;
- Of the homicides where the contributing circumstance was known:
- 34.2% were the result of an unspecified argument;
- 28.2% were gang-related;
- 8.5% occurred in conjunction with the commission of a rape, robbery, or burglary; and
- 6.7% were domestic violence-related; and
- There was an 18.1% increase in homicide arrests from 1,352 to 1,597.
Juvenile Justice in California 2020 provides insight into the juvenile justice process by reporting the number of arrests, referrals to probation departments, petitions filed, and dispositions for juveniles tried in juvenile and adult courts. Some key facts from 2019 to 2020 include:
- Of the 25,710 juveniles arrested:
- 46.4% were arrested for a misdemeanor;
- 44.1% were arrested for a felony offense; and
- 9.5% were arrested for a status offense;
- Of those same juveniles:
- 81.9% were referred to probation;
- 15.6% were counseled and released; and
- 2.6% were turned over to another agency;
- At 92.6%, the majority of referrals to probation came from police and sheriff’s departments;
- Of the juveniles formally handled by the juvenile court, 56.4% were made wards of the court; and
- Of the juveniles tried in adult court, 71.1% were convicted.
Use of Force Incident Reporting 2020 presents a summary overview of use of force and discharge-of-firearm incidents involving a peace officer, as defined in California Government Code section 12525.2. Some of the key facts include:
- In 2020, there were 708 incidents that involved the use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death of a civilian or officer, or the discharge of a firearm. Of those incidents:
- 51.1% occurred during a call for service;
- 17.4% occurred while either a crime was in progress or while officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; and
- 14% resulted from a vehicle, bike, or pedestrian stop;
- In 2020, 745 civilians were involved in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Of those civilians:
- 42.6% were Hispanic;
- 31.4% were white; and
- 17.4% were black; and
- In 2020, 1,702 officers were involved in incidents that involved the discharge of a firearm or use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death. Of those officers:
- 83.9% were not injured;
- 16% were injured; and
- 0.1% died.
The reports announced today — as well as the hate crimes report — are available here.