Urban crime rates in California have declined to historic lows, despite fears that recent statewide justice reforms have threatened public safety, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
In a new “fact sheet” published Wednesday, the nonprofit San Francisco-based research and policy center did not specifically link the reforms to what it called a “precipitous” decline in urban crime rates in California’s 73 largest cities through the 1990s and 2000s.
It noted that the statewide urban crime rate in early 2018 is the third lowest ever recorded.
Between January- June 2010 and January-June 2018, the rate of total crime decreased by 4.1 percent, and property crime decreased by 5.0 percent, while violent crime increased by 1.1 percent, according to the fact sheet.
During that time, California enacted several major reforms to its criminal justice system, most notably Public Safety Realignment (2011), which shifted responsibility for individuals with nonviolent, non-sexual, and non-serious convictions from the state to the county in an attempt to reduce prison populations; and the passage of Proposition 47 which reduced six minor drug and property felonies to misdemeanors.
But the nine-year review avoided drawing a direct link between the reforms and the lower crime rate. California critics have used annual increases in some cities to call for “rollbacks” in the reforms.
The wide “variance of trends” among the state’s jurisdictions suggest “that local policies and practices, rather than recent statewide justice reforms play a significant role in cities’ crime trends,” wrote the fact sheet author, Mike Males.
More specifically, the study found that in the first half of 2018, homicide rates declined by 13 percent, and motor vehicle theft dropped by 9.5 percent.
“The state’s urban crime rate in early 2018 is the third lowest ever recorded, as rates have declined precipitously in recent decades,” Males wrote.
“These historically low urban crime rates have persisted through an era of justice reform.”
Additional Reading: Wide Disparities in CA Crime Trends After Justice Reform
Read the fact sheet here.