Between 2010 and 2016, crime in Los Angeles County — including property and violent crime — rose by 5 percent even as overall crime in the rest of the state fell by the same rate, according to a report released Tuesday, says the Los Angeles Times. The study by the nonprofit Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice analyzed crime trends throughout California during a period referred to as the “justice reform era,” where legislation, voter-approved initiatives and court mandates brought major changes to California’s justice system. Those initiatives include Proposition 47, the controversial 2014 ballot measure that downgraded many drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors and allowed defendants to renegotiate their punishments, the Public Safety Realignment law and Proposition 57, to shrink the state’s prison population and focus on rehabilitation, and Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana.
Both advocates of reform and law enforcement have used the sweeping statewide policies and anecdotes to argue that crime has increased or decreased, said the study’s author, Mike Males. The report, which analyzed offenses reported by law enforcement agencies, found — especially in Los Angeles County — wide disparities in local crime trends. “We decided to look at the issue comprehensively,” Males said. “The reforms are probably not the reason crime has changed for better or worse for individual cities.” In L.A. County, crime rates rose by 5 percent, with a 4 percent increase in property crimes and an 8 percent increase in violent crimes during the period. Across the rest of California, property crime fell by 6 percent and violent crime fell by 2 percent. Criminologist Charis Kubrin of the University of California Irvine, studied the impact of California’s Public Safety Realignment bill, signed in 2011 by Gov. Jerry Brown and designed to address state prison overcrowding by diverting low-level offenders to county jails or probation. She and other researchers found that releasing such offenders back onto the streets had a very small effect on crime in California. “These criminal justice reform policies didn’t seem to have much of an impact,” Kubrin said. “The action, if you will, is at the local level.”