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Three Years Later, California Prison Realignment Changes Little
June 16, 2015
When Gov. Jerry Brown implemented California’s historic prison realignment in 2011, predictions on how this criminal justice overhaul would impact crime rates varied widely.
Many police and prosecutors thought the realignment, which pushed lower-level prison inmates down to county jails where they would serve less time, would cause the crime rate to rise drastically by releasing inmates back into society earlier.
About three and a half years later, however, a new study from the Public Policy Institute of California reveals that crime rates have only slightly changed since reforming the state’s prison system. This is despite — or in spite of — the fact that realignment released more than 18,000 offenders who otherwise would still be behind bars.
In fact, the study showed that there has been no increase in violent crime since the realignment — it actually fell by 6.4% in 2013 to a 46-year low of 396 instances per 100,000 residents, reports SCPR.org. Likewise, instances of car theft throughout the state fell following realignment.
“Despite concerns about the impact of realignment on crime rates, our analysis suggests that reducing California’s reliance on incarceration has had a very limited impact on crime,” said Magnus Lofstrom, one of the Public Policy Institute of California study’s authors.
The study also revealed that changes in California’s post-realignment crime rates were mostly in line with those in other states that have implemented prison realignment
Researchers did not, however, take into account the possibility for releasing wrongfully-convicted prisoners under the realignment. In the U.S., as many as 10,000 people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit each year, even if they have a criminal defense attorney at their side. Approximately 52.3% of these wrongful convictions are made as a result of eyewitness misidentification, with perjury by a witness causing an additional 11% of the convictions.
iven the fact that California has seen no discernible increase in its crime rates since freeing more of its prisoners, it’s safe to say that realignment has largely been a success.
What are your thoughts on California’s prison realignment implementation? Have any other questions or comments on domestic violence statistics, DUI consequences, gang crime statistics or simply how to choose a criminal defense attorney at law? Let us know in the comments below.