Release Date:  December 8, 2017
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

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A study by the San Francisco-based anti-incarceration group Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that for most of California, sentencing reforms (read anti-sentencing reforms) adopted in the state since 2011 have not caused an increase in crime. This was reported uncritically Tuesday by Los Angeles Times. The study concluded that outside of Los Angeles, California has enjoyed less crime since adopting new laws releasing criminals and reducing penalties. These news laws include: AB109, which released roughly 30,000 habitual felons into communities and prohibited those who commit most new crimes from going to prison; Proposition 47, which reclassified theft and drug felonies of less than $950 into misdemeanors; and Proposition 57, which removed mandatory sentence increases for repeat felons, including those with violent priors, and gave thousands of inmates the opportunity for early release. According to the study’s author “the reforms are probably not the reason crime has changed for better or worse for individual cities.”

The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation says that this study is bogus.

The key to the study’s findings is its lumping of violent and property crime into the category named “overall crime.” By doing this, the increasing violent crime in California is offset by the decrease in property crime. Why has there been a decrease in property crime reported to the police? One reason is that the crimes committed most frequently, theft and fraud of less than $950, were transformed into misdemeanors in 2014 by Proposition 47. Misdemeanors are low-priority crimes for police and are less frequently reported to police by victims. If somebody steals a $400 bicycle from a garage, police don’t even show up and victims are left to report the theft online. As a result, fewer property crimes are reported and this drags down the rate of “overall crime.” Nice trick, if you’re trying to pass off a lie.

When the focus is on violent crimes in California, state and federal data indicate dramatic increases. The report, Crime in California for 2016, released in August, shows across-the-board increases in violent crime, with homicide jumping nearly 5% after a 10% increase in 2015. While robbery and aggravated assault were also up, the increase in rape was the highest at over 7%. The state Attorney General’s report shows that from 2014 to 2016 homicide in California rose by 15.3%, robbery by 12.5%, and aggravated assault by 13.7%. Another indicator of the danger placed on Californians by these reforms is the number of police officers killed in the line of duty by the so-called “low level” criminals these policies have kept on the streets. Over the past 14 months, five California police officers have been killed by habitual criminals who would have been in jail or state prison prior to the 2011 enactment of AB109, Governor Brown’s “Public Safety Realignment” law.

“There are a network of so-called ‘non-partisan’ ” criminal justice research groups funded by liberal anti-law enforcement foundations that pump out these bogus ‘studies’ every few weeks, and the press rarely questions their validity,” said CJLF President Michael Rushford.

CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.