Realignment and Crime in 2014: California’s Violent Crime in Decline

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or around 113,700 people, by June 2013. To reduce the state prison population and minimize recidivism, California implemented Public Safety Realignment (“Realignment”) under Assembly Bill (AB) 109 in October 2011. This policy redirected people convicted of non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual offenses (non- non-non offenses) from state to county jurisdiction. Most people convicted of these low-level offenses now serve their sentences in county jails rather than state prison and are supervised by county probation rather than state parole. Realignment also required most people who violate parole and return to custody to be incarcerated in county jail rather than state prison.

When Realignment was implemented, concerns emerged that the new policy would increase crime. However, after Realignment, both violent crime and property crime rates generally declined, continuing the trends of the last two decades. Previous reports published by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice have found no evidence of a causal relationship between Realignment and crime (CJCJ, 2013; 2014), although other analyses suggest small effects for motor vehicle theft (PPIC, 2013; 2015b). This report presents comprehensive analyses of new data, detailing both statewide and county crime rates as well as state imprisonment rates for non-violent offenses, again finding no causal relationship between Realignment and county crime.

To read the full report, click here.

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