PPIC Report Highlights Disparities in Counties’ Arrest Rates

A new analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has highlighted the significant disparity in arrest rates between California’s urban and rural communities.

PPIC looked at arrest data from 2016. It showed 3,428 arrests per 100,000 residents statewide. But the rates were much higher in California’s smaller, rural counties than its larger urban centers.

Lake (7,906), Siskiyou (6,862), and Shasta (6,672) topped the list. The lowest arrest rates were in Riverside (2,479), Santa Clara (2,576), and San Francisco (2,603).

PPIC also found persistent racial disparities in arrest rates.

Statewide, racial disparities in arrests have narrowed since 1990, but gaps remain. In 2016, the arrest rate among African Americans was 3.1 times higher than the white arrest rate and the Latino arrest rate was 1.1 times higher than the white arrest rate. However, many counties had significantly larger disparities. In 2016, 33 counties had an African American arrest rate that was at least three times larger than the white arrest rate, and 13 counties had an African American arrest rate that was at least five times larger. Three counties had a Latino arrest rate that was at least twice the white arrest rate, but notably 26 counties had a Latino arrest rate that was lower than the white arrest rate.

Female arrest rates were similarly higher in smaller, rural counties such as Tuolumne (4,210 per 100,000 female residents), Lake (4,130), and Siskiyou (3,824). The counties with the lowest rates of apprehended females were San Francisco (982), Mono (1,046), and Santa Clara (1,142).

Several factors contribute to a county’s arrest rates, PPIC found. These include demographics and poverty levels, policing and staffing, jail capacity, and county finances.


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