Is California’s Rise in Crime Attributable to Brown v. Plata?

October 30th, 2013

That’s what Heather MacDonald argues in WSJ:

 Yet the judges show no sign of relinquishing their hold. California’s recent sharp increase in property crime—a rise eight times greater than the national average—may be one consequence of the judicial intervention.

California’s crime rate is now up considerably over the national average. Nationally, property crime was down 0.9% in 2012; in California it was up 7.6%. Car theft nationally was up 0.6% but in California it jumped 14.6%. Burglary nationally was down 3.7% but it increased 6.6% in California.

These differences could derive from reasons other than releasing 90,000 offenders from correctional control; it is premature to draw firm conclusions from a year’s worth of data. And the promised benefits from realignment—such as from keeping offenders away from prison culture and providing them with more social services closer to home—could eventually materialize. But one San Bernardino public defender, who is particularly concerned about the decimation of parole supervision, argues: “We were over-incarcerating before, now we are under-incarcerating.”

Tamara Tabo made a similar point in ATL recently.