CA Property Crime Falls During Justice Reforms

Some law enforcement officials have contended that California justice reforms have led to increasing property crimes, but a study finds that more jurisdictions reported decreases than increases in property crime rates over six years.

California’s property crime totals fell three percent between 2010 and 2016, a period marked by major justice system reform, including a prison realignment and two propositions approved by voters, reports the California-based Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. A study by the organization found substantial variation in crime at the local level, which suggests that recent crime patterns may result from local policies rather than state policy reform. Some law enforcement officials have blamed justice reforms for property crime increases.

For every major crime except vehicle theft, more California jurisdictions reported decreases than increases in their crime rates from 2010 to 2016. For example, just 141 jurisdictions reported increased rates of burglary, while 367 jurisdictions showed decreases. Across California, crime trends have been highly localized. Of the 511 cities and local areas studied, 42 percent showed rising rates of property crime from 2010 to 2016, with an average increase of 12.8 percent, and 58 percent showed decreases, with an average decline of 18.1 percent. Many places have devised successful policies and practices that are improving local safety, the report said. “The divergence between the 213 cities that have shown property crime increases since 2010 versus the 298 cities with property crime decreases was so large — a 31 percentage point difference — that the two categories of cities actually swapped places. This striking result suggests that reform measures … are not the reason a minority of cities experienced crime increases.” says report author Mike Males.