Critics say tight budget leading to property crime increase

January 15, 2013 7:26:04 PM PST
The tight state budget could be leading to an increase in crime.With the court to ease prison overcrowding, the state began shifting some low-level offenders to local jails, which some critics say couldn't handle them. Those same critics blame the move for a spike in property crimes.

Neighborhood Watch member Carole Morgan and her dog Shuka have been keeping an eye on their neighborhood lately. There's been a rash of break-ins.

"This one was broken into, the garage, the one on the corner, they broke in and took a lot of her stuff," Morgan said.

The California Department of Justice reports that while crime is down overall, property crimes are on the rise. They went up 2.6 percent for 2011, but in the fourth quarter of that year alone, after the state began shifting some low level criminals to the county jail under Gov. Jerry Brown's realignment plan, the number spiked to 4.5 percent.

Some law enforcement believe there's a connection since parole and probation changes, leaving many released criminals who've served their time unsupervised on the outside.

"Not only are they out, but there's no such tether on them, figuratively speaking of course; so it's absolutely predictable that this was going to happen," California Peace Officers Association spokesperson John McGinness said.

But the California Corrections Department says it's not fair to blame a rise in property crime just on realignment when there's only three months of data. Plus counties were given extra money to handle the caseload.

"Crime statewide, especially violent crime is going down; so if you're going to blame property crimes going up on realignment, then you should blame violent crimes going down on realignment," spokesperson Terry Thornton said.

McGinness worries though, that criminals will graduate to more serious crimes.

"The potential for homicides to increase is very real; I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen," he said.

Morgan doesn't know what to blame it on; she just knows her nice, quiet neighborhood isn't the same.

"It's terrible; it's getting worse and worse, as opposed to what it was when I came here 25 years ago," she said.

The state's crime statistics for 2012 will be out in the fall.


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