Report: State prison realignment has resulted in increase in property crimes

California’s public safety realignment program, which resulted in about 27,000 low-level felons being diverted from state prisons to county jails, has produced a marked increase in property crimes around the state but has had no statistically significant effect on violent crimes.

That is the conclusion of a study released Monday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Since the program began in 2011, the cumulative inmate population of county jails has increased by about 9,000, meaning that there has been a net increase at any given time of about 18,000 offenders being on the streets who previously would have been behind bars.

The program gives counties flexibility in how to handle the new offenders assigned to them, through such means as electronic monitoring, house arrest or split sentences in which half their time is served on probation. In addition, some counties reduce the time certain state inmates spend in jail or release them on their promise to appear in court — inmates who previously would have been detained before their trials.

The study estimates that there have been an additional 1 to1.5 property crimes committed per year for each offender not incarcerated. The effect has been most pronounced on auto thefts, which have increased by about 65 thefts per 100,000 residents since realignment was implemented.

Although violent crimes in California have increased by 3.2 percent since 2011, that increase closely tracks national trends and almost exactly matches the rate of increase experienced by other states that had similar crime rates to California before realignment. Therefore, said researcher Magnus Lofstrom, a co-author of the report, that increase cannot be attributed to any state-only policy.

“That’s very different from what we see in property crimes,” Lofstrom said.

The report finds there is “convincing and robust evidence” of an increase in property crimes that is directly attributable to realignment. Almost all of that increase is accounted for a spike in auto thefts equal to about an additional 1.2 thefts for each offender on the street who would have previously been incarcerated.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said the findings of the report “totally make sense,” in large part because the offenders on the street today who would have been incarcerated before are largely those who previously would have been serving time in jail for misdemeanors.

“It’s those less-serious offenders in county jail whose time is actually reduced,” he said, noting that county jail inmates now serve about 50 percent of their sentenced time, as opposed to about 70 percent before realignment.

Dean said that “several jurisdictions in Ventura County” have experienced what he called significant increases in property crimes, notably the cities of Ventura and Oxnard.

The report notes that even though crime rates in California have begun to rise after an extended period of decline, they remain at “historically low levels and are substantially below those observed a decade ago.” Even with the recent increases, the rate of property crimes is 20 percent below that from 2003 and the rate of violent crime is down 27 percent.

Despite the reduction in the state prison population achieved by realignment, the state still houses about 8,000 more prison inmates than is required to meet a inmate-population cap ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. State officials are negotiating with federal judges to seek a delay in meeting the court mandate while they implement new programs designed to reduce recidivism.

Should the ultimate solution result in 8,000 additional offenders being on the street, the report estimates that the effect on crime “would be slightly greater” than the increases that have already been experienced, Lofstrom said.

Based on studies done by the RAND Corp., the report estimates that the most efficient way to try to return the number of property crimes to their pre-realignment levels would be to invest in additional law enforcement officers — an approach, it says, that “could likely provide improved outcomes at lower costs.”

It estimates that an additional $1 spent on incarcerated realigned offenders would yield between 23 cents and 48 cents in terms of the value of crimes averted. The same dollar invested in increased policing, the report says, would generate about $1.60 in crime savings.

The RAND Corp. noted that an auto theft today costs on average $9,533.

© 2013 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 41

waynes-world writes:

Thank you Jerry Brown and your liberal minions for releasing more criminals to victimize us.

Mina writes:

Can we all agree that we need to build more prisons?

Mina writes:

We can pay for the prisons, or we'll pay the cost of not having prisons. Either way, the right wing method of sweeping convicts under the carpet is not working.

Mina writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Thank you Jerry Brown and your liberal minions for releasing more criminals to victimize us.

There they go again blaming the guy who's doing something about it rather than Schwarzenegger who struggled with this problem for seven years and only made it worse.

waynes-world writes:

in response to Mina:

There they go again blaming the guy who's doing something about it rather than Schwarzenegger who struggled with this problem for seven years and only made it worse.

I blame the guy that released them. Stop blaming everything on Schwarzenegger, he has been out of office for years and this state has been controlled exclusively by Democrats for decades. Own it already, you certainly have no problem accepting credit for anything good.

waynes-world writes:

Rather than build more prisons in California where it costs over $40000 per year to incarcerate, outsource it to Texas for half the cost. Then again Brown owes to the California prison guards union so that will never happen.

Mina writes:

Schwazenegger declared our prisons are in crisis in 2006, four years before Brown won the governorship back.

And the crisis had been building for years before that.

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/articl...

Mina writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Rather than build more prisons in California where it costs over $40000 per year to incarcerate, outsource it to Texas for half the cost. Then again Brown owes to the California prison guards union so that will never happen.

Outsourcing to Texas? Would it kill you to create a few job in California?

unclewede writes:

REGARDLESS of who actually signed the paper to turn them loose, can we all AGREE this isn't working?

See, it really won't kill you to agree with a dreaded (insert other political party member adjective here)

Mina writes:

At least Brown had the courage go direct to the voters to raise the funds rather than stealing the money from cities and schools (which Schwarzenegger did but didn't use to address the prison problem, he squandered on other things). The right wing fought Browns initiative tooth and nail screaming "political suicide" and trying their best to make it true.

Can you shoe me any evidence that Schwarzenegger did any thing that actually helped reduce the problem?

waynes-world writes:

in response to Mina:

Outsourcing to Texas? Would it kill you to create a few job in California?

More overpriced union jobs? The same public unions that control the politicians? No thanks.

Mina writes:

in response to waynes-world:

More overpriced union jobs? The same public unions that control the politicians? No thanks.

If you think the job is so overpaid, why don't you apply?

Mina writes:

in response to unclewede:

REGARDLESS of who actually signed the paper to turn them loose, can we all AGREE this isn't working?

See, it really won't kill you to agree with a dreaded (insert other political party member adjective here)

I guess it comes down to the definition of "this".

Complaining about what doesn't work is not as effective as championing what will work.

I say for the short term we need to build more prisons here in California, and hire more cops. For the long term we need to put money back in our schools and prevent the causes of crime.

Incarceration is far more expensive than prevention.

No amount of punishment will actually undo a crime, but proper support and supervision can prevent it.

VenturaDad805 writes:

How about taking some of the boondoggle train to nowhere money and spending it somewhere to control crime? Prisons, police, Texas…whatever…

That's where I have a real problem with Jerry Brown and ideological liberals. They want to “solve” worldly non-issues while Rome burns.

Mina writes:

in response to VenturaDad805:

How about taking some of the boondoggle train to nowhere money and spending it somewhere to control crime? Prisons, police, Texas…whatever…

That's where I have a real problem with Jerry Brown and ideological liberals. They want to “solve” worldly non-issues while Rome burns.

Because the money raised for the train was raised for the train. It's not coming out of the general fund or any other State programs.

If you want to cancel the train project cancel it on it's own merits or lack thereof.

The local taxes that were raised to facilitate local transit efforts should not be stolen to back fill the prison funding.

waynes-world writes:

in response to Mina:

If you think the job is so overpaid, why don't you apply?

I have no desire to become a prison guard, does that mean it doesn't pay very well in California? Hardly, most of them make six figure salaries with overtime. There is a reason it cost so much more to incarcerate people in this state.

Mina writes:

in response to unclewede:

REGARDLESS of who actually signed the paper to turn them loose, can we all AGREE this isn't working?

See, it really won't kill you to agree with a dreaded (insert other political party member adjective here)

Can you admit that the problem would be much worse if Jerry Brown hadn't risked his political career by proposing and championing proposition 30?

http://novotopia.com/index.php?articl...

VenturaDad805 writes:

I understand that this "money" was earmarked for this black hole project but that is the point. It deflects from real time, solvable issues.

It looks like the countless millions we have spent and budget shenanigans that they attempted are going down anyway.

This sounds like another program that the left has been responsible for on a national level...

Cy writes:

I have a novel idea to solve this!

I call it iPads for inmates. The state will supply every inmate with an iPad preloaded with Common Con rehabilitation software. There! Problem solved.

ms_reason writes:

You mean the Public Safety Realignment (AB109) is not working? Increase on property crime, increase in violent crime, increase in violence inside jails? WOW, say it isn't so.

How about deporting all illegals inside the prison system? Why must the taxpayer pay for these scum bags? Send them back to where they came from. And don't let them back in...Oh wait, the liberals don't like that.

The mass releases were ordered by a three-judge panel who were appointed by Jimmy Carter, yup, second worst President ever. And all of these judges are liberals. Go figure.

waynes-world writes:

in response to Mina:

I guess it comes down to the definition of "this".

Complaining about what doesn't work is not as effective as championing what will work.

I say for the short term we need to build more prisons here in California, and hire more cops. For the long term we need to put money back in our schools and prevent the causes of crime.

Incarceration is far more expensive than prevention.

No amount of punishment will actually undo a crime, but proper support and supervision can prevent it.

Put more money into schools? Do you think children raised by single mothers on welfare and no father figure will turn out different if more money is spent on education? The fundamental problem starts with no family infrastructure and a welfare policy that pays people to produce children they cannot support and have no desire to raise properly. I know that's not the "politically correct" answer but it is the truth.

Cy writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Put more money into schools? Do you think children raised by single mothers on welfare and no father figure will turn out different if more money is spent on education? The fundamental problem starts with no family infrastructure and a welfare policy that pays people to produce children they cannot support and have no desire to raise properly. I know that's not the "politically correct" answer but it is the truth.

Exactly!

Liberals encourage single motherhood, wanton sexuality, drugs and a general lack of personal responsibility or understanding of consequences. Then they want to throw money at it.

SgtSpanky writes:

in response to waynes-world:

More overpriced union jobs? The same public unions that control the politicians? No thanks.

Governor Brown just came to an agreement with the prison guard union, CCPOA to hire over 7000 guards in the next few years. Some will fill attrition others will be new hires.

The biggie part of this is hundreds of "civilian" private guards will be given a shortened 6 week, instead of the usual 16 week academy. Most of these hires will occur in the Kern county region.

That means to CCPOA thousands of "new" guards paying dues of about $100 per month CCPOA, CCPOA contributes heavily to the Democratic party. Go figure

Cy writes:

Ignoring their gilded pensions, the huge scam by California prison guards is that so many retire so young on fraudulent disability claims.

unclewede writes:

Let me see if I follow your logic: Prop 30 was passed. IF that 6 billion hadn't made it's way to the kids, there would be a lot more local crime because we are keeping local criminals in place instead of shipping them to Texas. Do I have that right?

I would be willing to bet a 1% increase for 5 years in my family's payment to the FTB that NONE of the criminals that we are talking about were in any kind of education system that may potentially benefit from any money that may eventually trickle in from Prop 30.

Humble_Beginnings writes:

Most people would be shocked to find out that violent criminals serve only 5.5 years for murder or 3 years for rape.

But those are the sobering statistics worked up from lenient early-release practices.

TheCrusader writes:

in response to waynes-world:

Thank you Jerry Brown and your liberal minions for releasing more criminals to victimize us.

Actually this is 100% the fault of the GOP. They cut taxes for billionaires and passed 3 strikes, then they force the release of criminals due to lack of funding and like cowards try to blame everyone else.

WhatWereTheyThinking writes:

I wonder if they took into account the increased use of meth as a contributer to property crime increases. In the past 10 years, everytime I see an increase in prison spending, I see a decrease in educational funding. See the correlation there?

waynes-world writes:

in response to TheCrusader:

Actually this is 100% the fault of the GOP. They cut taxes for billionaires and passed 3 strikes, then they force the release of criminals due to lack of funding and like cowards try to blame everyone else.

This state has been run by the Democrats for over 20 years. Last time I checked California has done nothing but INCREASE taxes.
It costs over $40,000 per inmate to incarcerate in California vs about $20,000 in Texas. The state should outsource the prisoners to Texas.

FormerNPer writes:

in response to TheCrusader:

Actually this is 100% the fault of the GOP. They cut taxes for billionaires and passed 3 strikes, then they force the release of criminals due to lack of funding and like cowards try to blame everyone else.

Here folks is the reason we are in such a horrible place with our Government. The blame game played by the Democrats is one of the BIGGEST LIES perpetrated upon the citizens of this Country and this State.

If the GOP cut taxes for the billionaires, why didn't the Democratic Super Majority just put them back? Hmmm?

Passing the 3 strikes law keeps repeat offenders in jail. How can you, in any way, shape or form, say that it is causing criminals to be released? In fact, with this Democrat controlled state the 3-strikes law was allowed to be eased up on, creating less people falling under it's rules. Thus, more repeat offenders allowed out.

Funds are lacking? You SUPER MAJORITY can easily fix that. Redirect funds. What do you want from the GOP who basically has zero say?

Oh wait, I know what you want, someone to blame. Sorry we aren't playing that game anymore, if you want this fixed, FIX IT DEMOCRATS, no one is stopping you. No one.

unclewede writes:

Being sent to a prison in Texas, where the weather isn't as pleasant, the relatives aren't as close would also be an extra incentive not to get into future trouble, and we would still have ~$20K to spend on intervention at the school level. Sounds like an idea worth investigating.

Doxster writes:

in response to unclewede:

Being sent to a prison in Texas, where the weather isn't as pleasant, the relatives aren't as close would also be an extra incentive not to get into future trouble, and we would still have ~$20K to spend on intervention at the school level. Sounds like an idea worth investigating.

unclewede,
Have to disagree on this one. Seldom does a criminal think of consequences when planning or committing their offense.
My understanding is that we already have a considerable number of prisoners housed out of state. Texas would not be my choice for this option given their historic hostility toward CA and their repeated attempts to take away business from CA and otherwise cause monetary harm. Think Enron.
And on a side note from your comment, a lot of blame being thrown around. The voters were responsible for the implementation of 3 strikes and the subsequent modification. Voters also approved the high speed rail.

Sunflowers writes:

Well let the offenders out early without rehabilitation, they will go out and re-offend. Its called cause and effect. Also, lack of consequences, these offenders find they do not have to follow through with their sentences, so they think they get off easy now. So now we will have a constant revolving door with our Criminal Justice System.

Patron writes:

in response to Mina:

Can you admit that the problem would be much worse if Jerry Brown hadn't risked his political career by proposing and championing proposition 30?

http://novotopia.com/index.php?articl...

WHAT! I thought prop 30 was for schools. In the advertising it had pictures of kids and teachers, not inmates and guards.

Prop 30 shows the idiocy of CA voters. He may not of stolen the money but the kooks in this state traded the con man two nickels for one quarter. Who got the lions share...the unions that supported Brown trout.

Traditional-2 writes:

in response to Patron:

WHAT! I thought prop 30 was for schools. In the advertising it had pictures of kids and teachers, not inmates and guards.

Prop 30 shows the idiocy of CA voters. He may not of stolen the money but the kooks in this state traded the con man two nickels for one quarter. Who got the lions share...the unions that supported Brown trout.

Just under 50% of prop 30 revenues are going to schools. Democrats lied. Stupid voters believed the Dems and voted for 30. And foot soldiers like Mina start chanting a different story.

Damn, people, wake up to the lunacy.

Cy writes:

in response to WhatWereTheyThinking:

I wonder if they took into account the increased use of meth as a contributer to property crime increases. In the past 10 years, everytime I see an increase in prison spending, I see a decrease in educational funding. See the correlation there?

Actually, there is a clear correlation between global warming and the increase in prison spending.

waynes-world writes:

in response to Traditional-2:

Just under 50% of prop 30 revenues are going to schools. Democrats lied. Stupid voters believed the Dems and voted for 30. And foot soldiers like Mina start chanting a different story.

Damn, people, wake up to the lunacy.

Wake up? They are the lunacy, like glassy eyed zombies they preach the mantra.

Traditional-2 writes:

in response to Cy:

Exactly!

Liberals encourage single motherhood, wanton sexuality, drugs and a general lack of personal responsibility or understanding of consequences. Then they want to throw money at it.

Very important point.

There is plenty of evidence that "outcomes" of children from a traditional mom/dad household are way better than any other family structure - HS graduation, college attendance, drug use, arrests, and on and on - all better in a traditional nuclear family.

HearMeOut-Thanks writes:

in response to Mina:

We can pay for the prisons, or we'll pay the cost of not having prisons. Either way, the right wing method of sweeping convicts under the carpet is not working.

Yawn!

HearMeOut-Thanks writes:

Mina would do well in the old Soviet Union, or maybe today's Cuba, North Korea, China and many left-wing, Marxist countries in Latin America.

ms_reason writes:

I think the population in California has a lot to do with the crime. For example, there are thousands of illegals inside the prison system. If these illegals were not able to get into the Country, they wouldn't end up in a prison and many victims not victims.
But the Democrats would NEVER admit that....Why? Because they would lose votes.

Shame on them.

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