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Spinning the Bad News on Crime

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Sentencing Law and Policy has this entry up today:  "New report details stability of California crime rates during period of huge sentencing reform."  

That must be good news, right?  Much more leniency and no crime increase?  Here's the key paragraph:

The statewide urban crime rate stabilized from 2010 to 2016, after decades of decline.

Urban crime rates in California declined precipitously through the 1990s and 2000s (See Appendix A).  Since 2010, crime in California has stabilized, hovering near historically low levels. Comparing the first six months of 2016 to the first six months of 2010, total crime rates experienced no net change, while property crime declined by 1 percent and violent crime increased by 3 percent.

For a more clear-eyed look at what's going on, here's the translation:

After dropping massively for twenty years due in large part to more and more aggressive policing and greater use of incarceration, crime rates are no longer falling.  Instead, in its period of "reform," in which those policies have been left behind, California has thrown away six years of progress against crime, and is now back to 2010 levels  --  with the momentum of change in exactly the wrong direction.

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If I had battled cancer for twenty years and my tumor shrank dramatically over that period, and then my doctor changed my medicine, and then she told me a year later that my tumor had "stabilized," would I consider that good news? Would she even report it that way? I don't think so.

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