California’s historic reduction of the state prison population has coincided with a spike in auto thefts and other property crimes, but no significant increase in violent crimes such as murder and rape, says a study reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. There is “robust evidence” that auto thefts began to increase “noticeably” when Gov. Jerry Brown instituted his “realignment” policy in October 2011, in response to a federal court order to cut the prison population, said the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
Realignment led to 65 more auto thefts per year per 100,000 residents during the first year of the new policy, the study said. Violent crime rose 3.4 percent during that same time, but the increases appear to be part of a broader trend seen in other states, said researchers Magnus Lofstrom and Steven Raphael, a UC Berkeley public policy professor. Realignment was a response to a federal court order to thin the overcrowded prison system by 33,000 inmates. People convicted of crimes not considered violent, serious or sexual are kept in local jails. State parole violators now serve time in jail rather than prison.