Both 2012 and 2015 are years that followed the passing of significant criminal justice changes in California. In the ensuing years, data indicates a rise in overall crime, The Los Angeles Times reports. The findings of an analysis, from the Marshall Project and The Los Angeles Times, may provide ammunition for opponents of laws intended to decrease the number of people in prison.
Criminal justice reform is not going to please every Californian, but hopefully, such changes result in a more humane method of treating criminal offenders. However, if such measures result in a spike in crime, it is imperative that researchers get to the bottom of such trends. They must determine if increases in crime directly stem from reform; and, if so, what are some solutions.
Are Criminal Justice Reforms Responsible for Crime Jumps?
In 2011, Assembly Bill 109 shifted the burden of housing nonviolent inmates to the counties. In 2013, voters passed Proposition 47 which reclassified drug and most theft crimes as misdemeanors, according to the article. In 2016, Proposition 57 gave some inmates a chance at earning early release from prison.
The Marshall/Times analysis showed a 12 percent increase in violent crime in California from 2014 to 2017; California’s percent of increase is much higher than the national average. However, the rise in crime can mostly be attributed to property crimes like motor vehicle theft. In response to what reform opponents call a “permissive climate” to crime, the 2020 ballot will include a statewide initiative to reverse some provisions of recent criminal justice reforms.
It’s worth noting that two separate studies, including one from a UC Irvine criminologist, published recently, did not find a correlation between Prop. 47 and the increase in violent crime.
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