There has been a lot of scaremongering in the press about rising crime rates as a result of realignment; these stories often feature a cop offering his opinion about how scary the world has become since 2011. Alas, it seems that a systematic analysis of the data refutes these panicked impressions: a new CJCJ report published today examines the impact of Public Safety Realignment and county dependence on state prison in light of California’s 2012 slight crime increase and finds “no conclusive trends demonstrating a causal relationship between Realignment and crime.”
- Nearly all counties had substantial decreases in prison admissions, but crime trends varied erratically, indicating no general correlation between crime and Realignment. Madera County experienced a 24% increase in overall Part I crime rates, while Placer County experienced a 14% decrease. Violent crime trends were also highly variable, with a 46% increase in Kings County to a 26% decline in Humboldt and Napa counties.
· Los Angeles County presents a special case with a higher than average proportion of realigned individuals, yet continuing declines in crime worthy of further examination to determine if model practices exist for statewide replication.
- CJCJ found no correlation between high realignment rates and motor vehicle theft. There was also no difference in violent crime rates between high realignment and low realignment counties.
- Highly state-dependent counties experienced a larger increase in property crime. However, that even neighboring counties show large variances in crime trends, indicates factors other than Realignment are at work.
Additionally, the California Sentencing Institute (CASI) released its 2012 adult data, demonstrating the continuing prevalence of geographical disparities in county sentencing practices. New features for 2012 include more breakdowns by race, gender, and offense.
It is still too early to draw definitive conclusions about the impact, if any, of Realignment on crime. Policymakers should be cautious of adopting statewide policies that modify elements of Realignment based on narrow and anecdotal evidence from just one or a handful of counties. Instead, CJCJ recommends policymakers develop state resources to expand research capacity and leadership on tracking the impact of Realignment.
Read the entire thing here.