All too often the story, unintended consequences from policy driven by the uninformed, as reported by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
GOVERNOR’S INMATE RELEASE LAW
INCREASED CRIME IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY
A report released today by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation found that a major contributor to the increased crime in Sacramento County last year were criminals no longer eligible for prison under a 2011 law touted by the Governor as a way to reduce prison overcrowding and improve public safety.
Data from the Sacramento County Probation Department indicate that offenders, released into Sacramento County under AB109, the “Public Safety Realignment” law, were arrested for over 12,000 crimes between October of that year and 2015.
Under Realignment, most felons released from state prison are designated as “low level” offenders and placed on county probation, termed by Realignment as Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS), rather than on much stricter state parole. When the more serious offenders released on state parole violate parole conditions, they can no longer be returned to prison. Instead, they receive short sentences in county jail followed by release to lighter supervision on PRCS. Offenders committing most new crimes, including auto theft, fraud, commercial burglary, assault, domestic violence and drug offenses, cannot be sentenced to prison no matter how many times they commit these crimes. Like parole violators, they can only be sentenced to time in county jail followed by release on PRCS.
According to the report, of the 5,269 offenders placed on PRCS, 2,371 (44.9%) were arrested for 7,578 felonies and 4,888 misdemeanors. More than 1,200 were arrested for violent felonies, such as rape, robbery and murder. Of the offenders convicted, 631 (over 51%) were for domestic violence, which under Realignment is not considered a serious enough crime to carry a prison sentence.
“Sacramento is a medium-sized California county with diverse demographics and strong police and prosecution agencies. According to preliminary FBI data, the county suffered a 25% increase in crime during the first six months of 2015,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford. “Because Realignment does not require the state to keep track of criminals placed on PRCS, analysis of its impact must be done one county at a time. Federal and state data confirm that significant increases in crime occurred virtually everywhere in California last year, which suggests that Sacramento County’s experience is not unique. Our review found that most, if not all, of the county’s increase appears to be the result of Realignment leaving over 5,000 criminals in the county under light supervision until they committed new crimes violent enough to qualify for a prison sentence. Once again the Governor’s promises have turned out to be false, and law-abiding Californians are paying the price,” he added.