A large-scale study by researchers from major California Universities has just been published, ”The Great Experiment: Realigning Criminal Justice in California and Beyond”. found that California’s Prison Realignment efforts have substantially decreased the number of offenders in State Prison, but have had little to no impact on the crime rate.
Realignment, which passed through the legislature as AB109, went into effect in October 2011 after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce overcrowding in state prisons. In response, California decided to reduce the prison population by changing how lower level, non-violent felons are treated – leaving punishment for each county to decide and execute, rather than sending them to a state prison.
The findings take up the entire April, 2016 issue of the The Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Science. UC criminologists Professor Charis Kubrin and Carroll Seron, said the work presents the most comprehensive investigation into the impacts of 2011′s prison realignment to date – and answers the biggest question the reform raised. “Is California more dangerous as a result of realignment? The answer is ‘no,’ ” she said.
Today, there are 146,000 fewer Californians supervised either in prison, jail, parole, or probation than there were prior to Realignment.
Researchers found “very little evidence that the large reduction in California incarceration had an effect on violent crime, and modest evidence of effects on property crime, auto theft in particular.”
Researchers also found little impact on offender recidivism, though they did notice a difference between counties that invested in rehabilitation services had somewhat better results than those who primarily invested in law enforcement.
To learn more about this major research effort, go to the Academy’s website: