Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011 overhaul of California’s criminal justice system led to the early release of 18,000 offenders. But a new study shows no increase in violent crime as a result.
Brown’s “realignment” program has been a lightning rod from the start. It shifted responsibility – and money – for low-level offenders from the state to counties, in part to comply with a court order to deal with California’s overcrowded prisons.
Opponents warned the crime rate would spike. But a Public Policy Institute of California study of the first two years of realignment suggests the only increase has been to property crimes – specifically, auto thefts.
“We are relying less on incarceration, and we did so in a meaningful way, without any impact on violent crime,” the PPIC’s Magnus Lofstrom.
At least, so far. It’s unclear what effect realignment will have when combined with another big change to the criminal justice system. Proposition 47, approved by voters last fall, downgrades several drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. That’s also expected to reduce the number of Californians behind bars.