Realignment involves the diversion of low-level offenders and parole violators from state prisons to county jails.
The Public Policy Institute of California study found a nearly 15 percent increase in car theft between 2011 and 2012, the first year the policy was in place. However, there was no significant increase in violent crimes, including rape and murder.
Study Co-author Magnus Lofstrom said the study provides some much needed data.
“With about 18,000 additional offenders on the street as a result of this reform, there were obvious concerns about the impact on crime," he said.
But the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Jeffrey Callison said the study only looked at the first year of a program that will take years to unfold.
“It would just be too simple to say, well, realignment started, some crime rates increased, so therefore, there’s a connection between the two. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t," he said.
Realignment was implemented two years ago in response to a federal court ruling that ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding.