California Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” of criminal justice procedures, aimed at reducing overcrowding in state prisons by diverting more felons into local jails and probation, has not resulted in lower rates of new criminal activity among offenders, says a study by the Public Policy Institute of California reported by the Sacramento Bee. The study concludes, “We find that the post-realignment period has not seen dramatic changes in arrests or convictions of released offenders. In the context of realignment’s broad reforms to the corrections system, our findings suggest that offender behavior has not changed substantially.”
“Overall arrest rates of released offenders are down slightly, with the proportion of those arrested within a year of release declining by two percentage points,” says the study authors, Magnus Lofstrom, Steven Raphael, and Ryken Grattet. “At the same time, the proportion of those arrested multiple times has increased noticeably, by about seven percentage points. These higher multiple arrest rates may reflect the substantial increase in the time that released offenders spend on the streets–a result of counties’ limited jail capacity.” The study may provide new ammunition for the critics of realignment who contend that the state is solving its prison overcrowding problem under pressure from federal judges by putting new burdens on local governments, particularly county jails, that result in more criminal activity.