Recent Urban Crime Increases Not Linked to Realignment

womens prisonSan Francisco: Since California’s Public Safety Realignment (AB109) was implemented in October 2011, critics have charged that the policy, which keeps low-level felons under county supervision instead of sending them to prison, is leading to crime increases across the state. However, these assertions are based on anecdote rather than evidence. A new report by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice,  California’s Urban Crime Increase in 2012: Is “Realignment” to Blame?, has analyzed the first full crime figures published since Realignment went into effect, and found no correlation between Realignment and crime trends.

The publication finds:

  • Violent and property crime rates rose in 40 of California’s 69 cities with populations of 100,000 or more in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011. Though crime rates remain among the lowest recorded over the last 40 years, this is the biggest crime increase in 20 years.
  • crime rate declinesUrban crime trends varied widely among counties. Changes in violent crime rates ranged from a 33% increase in San Mateo County to a 13% drop in Santa Barbara County. For property crime rates, fluctuations ranged from a 24% increase in Stanislaus County to a 11% decrease in Santa Barbara County.
  • Realigning more offenders is not connected with increases in crime. In fact, the counties with the largest proportions of realigned offenders and parolees showed smaller increases in violent and property crimes than did counties with smaller proportions of realigned offenders.
      • Of the eight counties showing decreases in urban violent crime, five had greater than average proportions of realigned offenders.
      • Sacramento County and Alameda County, which have similar urban populations and realigned at similar rates, saw sharply different increases in violent and property crimes
      • The city of Los Angeles showed a substantial decrease in violent crime in the first half of 2012 (down 7.9%), which, according to figures from the police department, persisted throughout the year and into 2013.
Mike_Males

Mike Males

“Analysis of the best data available to date suggests that offenders and parolees who have not committed violent or serious crimes can be supervised at the local level without jeopardizing public safety,” says study author Mike Males.

Read the full report here:  California_Urban_Crime_Increase_2012.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with CJCJ Senior Research Fellow, Mike Males, please contact him directly at (405) 219-8539 or by email at mmales@earthlink.net.

About Mike Males

Mike A. Males is a Senior Research Fellow at CJCJ. He has contributed research and co-authored numerous CJCJ publications, including on issues of drug policy, 3-strikes law, criminal justice realignment, and juvenile justice reform.

Dr. Males has a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from U.C. Irvine and over 12 years of experience working in youth programs. He is also content director of Youth Facts (www.YouthFacts.org)

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