Disagreement on Impact of FBI statistics

Screen shot 2012-12-02 at 10.56.20 AMJan. 28,2013

The FBi’s release of California crime statistics unleashed charges from both pro and anti-realignemnt advocates. Each side claimed that the statistics supported their position as to the effect of realignment reform upon crime in California. A January 24th LA Times article articulated the positions of both sides.

“The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said that statistics released by the FBI, show a 7.6% increase in homicide and double-digit increases in burglary and auto thefts the first half of 2012 when compared to the first six months of 2011″.

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, on the other hand, found there was ” no connection between those changes and places with the proportion of “realigned offenders,” individuals who would have gone to prison in the past but are now the wards of counties. In fact, crime rates dropped in five counties receiving a disproportionate share of those new prisoners.”

And so the argument as to realignment and its impact upon crime levels continues. With conservative and many law enforcement agencies decrying the return of prisoners to county supervision and custody, as a danger to public safety. And so-called reformers and human-rights advocates arguing that realignment is working, and where there are problems, they are caused by the government’s reluctance to take the reforms further and to provide the resources and support required for such a major  shift in prison policy.


California prison terms for violent criminals more than double

In an article published by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Center disputes Governor Brown’s argument that all those who could safely be released from prison had already been released. The Center relies in part on a recent study by the Pew Center for the States (click on image on the left, to obtain a PDF of the PEW article, “Time Served; The High Cost, Low Return of Longer Prison Terms”)

The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, relying on PEW data, argues that ”  California offenders who committed violent crimes can now expect to serve 7 years in prison — in 1990, they would have served less than 3. Looking at people who committed murder, those who were released in 2009 served an average of 16 years; now, they can expect to serve more than 50 years. This lengthening of sentences for violent crimes is a major reason California’s prisons are overflowing and will continue to do so. In 2009, nearly 100,000 of the state’s prison inmates were doing time for violent crimes, a number that will only grow as the exit door continues to recede.”

It would appear that Governor Brown’s suggestion to the rest of the nation, that they consider California as a model for Penal Reform, may be a bit premature. While the Governor’s realignment plan and funding are an important start in California’s Penal reform process, it would appear that we have a long way to go before we can describe the California Penal System California as a model.


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