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Report: More Ex-Cons on Streets Means More Property Crime In California

In the Walnut Creek area, the early release seems to have had a minimal impact

Researchers have found “robust evidence” suggesting that property crime in California increased because thousands of prisoners who had been locked in state prisons transferred to the laxer custody of county officials in a process known as realignment.

Looking at statewide crime data from the California Department of Justice, the Public Policy Institute of California says property crimes were 7 to 12 percent higher in 2012 because an estimated 18,000 convicted criminals who would have otherwise been behind bars were free.

With a 14.8 percent increase between 2011 and 2012, motor vehicle thefts saw the biggest spike.

In order to abide by a federal mandate to ease overcrowding in the state prison system, the state Legislature passed a law in 2011 that sent more parolees and non-violent criminals to county custody. Known as realignment, the legislation has reduced the state’s incarceration by 9 percent.

The study found that realignment has had no effect on violent crime rates.

The rise in property crime did not hit all parts of the state equally. Alameda County had an increase of 17.1 percent in property crime during the time studied in the report. Contra Costa had an increase of 10 percent in the same period.

In Walnut Creek, the effect seems to be minimal. The city saw only a slight increase in property crimes from 2011 to 2012

The number of property crimes in the city the past decade has also decreased.

The first wave of prisoners transferred during realignment were usually guilty of non-violent and non-sexual crimes. But 8,000 inmates above the 110,000 limit mandated by federal order remain in California prisons.

The report concludes that if these more serious criminals allowed to go free, the rise in property crime would be even larger.

Read the full report from the PPIC here.


Read about realignment here.
Clive December 11, 2013 at 09:34 PM
You publish a report from a right wing policy research group without questioning it. They show an increase in property crime in 2012 and suggest it was because there was laxer custody of criminals – yet there was exactly the same % increase in 2004 and 2009 How do they explain that? To me this shows that there is no connection.
Jim December 11, 2013 at 11:15 PM
The PPIC is far from right wing Clive. They are non-partisan but lean further left than right. And their conclusions were drawn from analysis of arrest data, crime rates and the number of released prisoners being rearrested. Read the report. Perhaps more interesting is the city's own "citizen survey" which shows 10% fewer residents reported crimes from 2007 to 2012. That means the crime rates for Walnut Creek are underreported.
Clive January 10, 2014 at 12:11 AM
I read the report - but I also read others Sourcewatch.org says: The Smith Richardson Foundation is financed by the Vicks Vaporub fortune. The Foundation became active in supporting conservative causes in 1973 when R. Richardson Randolph became its president. The US has the highest prison rate in the world but the 2009 US crime rates are not lower than the UK http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm The robbery rates were similar between the two countries: U.S. 2009 robbery rate: 133 per 100,000. U.K. 2009 robbery rate: 164 per 100,000. The burglary rates were far higher in the U.S.: U.S. 2009 burglary rate: 716.3 per 100,000 U.K. 2009 burglary rate: 523 per 100,000. And in the U.S., you were nearly four times as likely to be murdered: U.S. 2009 murder rate: 5 per 100,000. U.K. 2009 murder rate: 1.49 per 100,000. Maybe the real issue is gun access?

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