On Tuesday, May 19, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its report, Realignment, Incarceration and Crime Trends in California, which concluded that releasing thousands of prison inmates into communities has not increased the rate of violent crime.
The report focused on the April 2011 adoption of AB109, a 423-page bill called the Public Safety Realignment Act. That bill allowed for the reduction of roughly 30,000 prison inmates over the next two years. It also reduced supervision for most released inmates from state parole to county probation. The measure further prohibited prison sentences for new convictions of most felonies, including assault, auto theft, commercial burglary and drug dealing, requiring instead that offenders serve time in county jails, home detention, or rehabilitation programs.
In a statement released today, the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation questioned the validity of PPIC’s conclusion.
The PPIC report acknowledged that violent crime in California increased in 2012, but noted that according to FBI statistics for 2013, violent crime did not increase that year. The report also found that the state prison population leveled off in 2013.
The Foundation pointed to a Los Angeles Times investigation last August which discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department had under-reported a significant number of violent crimes in 2013, misclassifying nearly 1,200 beatings, stabbings, robberies, and aggravated assaults as “low-level felonies.” When those crimes are counted, the violent crime rate in Los Angeles was 14% higher.
The Foundation also noted that a June 21, 2014 LA Times story found that the state’s prison population began increasing in 2013, as more criminals were convicted of serious or violent felonies which, even under Realignment, carry prison sentences. The story also reported that state prison costs had increased by $2 billion since Realignment became law and were projected to increase by $3 billion this year. Finally, the Foundation pointed to a March 24, 2015 statement by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reporting that violent crime was up in his city by 26% so far this year.
“One wonders how a group purportedly monitoring crime in California could have missed this information. Taking it into account certainly contradicts the notion that Realignment is not impacting the safety of the law-abiding public,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.
CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.