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California Crime Update

California's Criminal Justice Statistics Center has released its annual Crime in California Report for 2012.  The good news is that the news isn't quite as bad as the preliminary indication we got from the FBI's preliminary version of Crime in the United States.  See our report from last month.  The bad news is it's still bad.

After years of decline, murder and rape are up in 2012 over 2011, but the CJSC's statewide figures are not up as much as the FBI's numbers from the cities over 100,000 population.  Homicides are +4.6% statewide compared to +10.5% in the cities.  The nationwide figure is +1.5%  Rape is +2.1% statewide compared to +6.4% in the cities and -0.3% nationwide.  Robbery is +3.9% statewide, about the same as the +3.5% city figure, compared to 0.5% nationally.  Aggravated assault is +3.9% statewide, +2.0% in the cities, and +1.7% nationwide.

So violent crime is up in California, more so than in the nation as a whole, but not as much as in the city data reported previously.

PropCrimeNatlCal2012.GIFFor property crimes, the picture is not much different from that reported previously from the FBI preliminary city data.  (Click on the graph for a better view.)  California property crimes are up while the national figures are essentially flat.

Auto theft is the crime category most likely to be affected by realignment.  It is always a felony, unlike theft, but always categorized as "nonserious" for realignment, unlike burglary. 

Auto theft is up a staggering 14.6% statewide, essentially the same as the 15% figure previously reported from the FBI preliminary city data.  Before realignment, auto theft was in decline.

Does this prove realignment is the cause?  No, proof either way is not possible at this point.  But it's probable cause, at the very least.  Common sense tells us that releasing large numbers of criminals is likely to cause increased crime.  The pattern of increases in the various crimes fits the pattern we would expect if realignment were the cause of the increase.  No alternative explanation for an increase in 2012 is apparent.

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