Letting Convicts Free to Skimp on Prison Costs
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) A federal court ruled that the state of California must improve the health conditions of its convicted criminals. A three judge panel of federal judges said the prisons were overcrowded. As a result, Californians were sold on the idea of anti-incarceration groups of revising their three strikes laws because it was costing the state government too much money .
Did anybody worry about the cost - economic, emotional, and social - to the citizens of California of letting criminals out of prison early?
California filed numerous appeals of the judges ruling. The governor of the state, Jerry Brown, is certainly no law-and-order type. He appealed the order to the Supreme Court, because he feared the increased crime that would result. But the courts have rejected all appeals.
Furthermore, California passed Proposition 36 in 2012 which changes the three-strikes law. This law permits criminals serving life sentences for crimes that are not serious or violent to be sentenced again or released if a judge determines public safety is not jeopardized.
What are the results? Opinions vary among the experts. Some say it is an abysmal failure.
According to an article in the July 26, 2013 Sacramento Bee , crime is on the rise. The bold headline proclaims "California's crime rates inch up in 2012."
The Bee goes on to say, "The number of violent crimes and property crimes in California inched up between 2011 and 2012, according to a new analysis of crime data released by the Attorney General's office on Friday...The statewide rates of homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all ticked up in 2012 compared to 2011 levels. The same holds for the total numbers of burglary, automobile theft and larceny.Violent crimes increased by less than 3 percent from 2011, marking a rare instance of year-to-year violent crime rates jumping since the level of offenses began receding from its peak two decades ago."
Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF), a nonprofit public interest law organization, says the program is failing.
"California city crime is up in every category," he said. "Not only that, but California city crime increased more than the national figure in every category," noted Scheidegger. "Violent crime is up 2.9% compared to 1.2% nationally, but when we focus on the most violent crimes, we see murder up 10.5% versus 1.5% nationally and rape up 6.4% versus a 0.3% drop nationally."
He also says that the difference in property crime is even greater. Overall, California cities had a 9.7% increase versus a 0.8% drop nationally. He said that auto theft has increased dramatically. Scheidegger attributes this to California's realignment, because car stealing is not considered a serious offense is subject the realignment law.