For the first time since the state’s adoption of groundbreaking “Three Strikes” law, crime is on the rise throughout California. It is a trend that is likely to continue and there is no question about the cause.
Governor Brown and the State legislature passed legislation releasing thousands of state prisoners in response to Federal Court mandates to reduce the prison population. While the official position is that only “non violent” offenders would hit the streets under the program, law enforcement professionals know better; a crime wave is about to ensue.
The truth is it takes a lot of hard work to get into state prison. Almost every inmate experiences numerous run-ins with the law before actually being convicted and sent to state prison.
Typically, their conviction history understates their actual criminal experience. The criminal justice system is, in fact, designed to avoid the expensive consequence of state incarceration at every turn.
Determinant sentencing has taken away a great deal of discretion from judges and this is probably not a good idea. But, no one disputes the reality that most released prisoners ultimately turn again to crime.
Study after study has shown that the only reliable predictor of lower recidivism is age. After the age of 50, the likelihood of repeat crimes drops precipitously.
But, California has released thousands of prisoners in the prime years of their criminal careers.
Don’t blame Governor Jerry Brown.
Blame pandering politicians, and the Federal Courts.
As the cost of housing a growing prison population rose post Three Strikes, the prisoner rights lobby began the drumbeat and politicians found success campaigning on the bogus theme to “fund schools not prisons.” (This, despite the fact that education expenditures consume 50% of the state budget and prisons less than 10%.)