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Runner: Prisoner Shift Has Hurt Low-Income Neighborhoods

A year ago, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 109 diverting convicted felons from state prison and into jail, a place intended minor criminals. This lawSharon Runner has resulted in an increased in crimes especially in poor urban areas as convicted felons are released early.

“The Governor’s public safety plan accelerates the divide between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have-nots,’” said State Senator Sharon Runner. “As convicted criminals are diverted from state prison, they typically return to low income neighborhoods, not the gated suburbs and pristine coastal towns.”

Runner, a long time public safety advocate, tracked crime rates in various regions of the state since the law’s inception. In the first half of 2012, Oakland experienced a 44% increase in burglary and a 41% increase in robberies with a firearm.

Stockton, a city riddled with financial troubles, has experienced a murder epidemic with 34 homicides in the first half of 2012. The City which recorded half as many killings (17) during the first half of 2011 is on pace to set an all-time high for murder this year.

On a local level, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reports that Lancaster suffered an increase of 22.9% in burglary during the first half of 2012. Palmdale had a 20.8% increase in burglary during the same period.

The City of San Bernardino, which followed Stockton in declaring bankruptcy, experienced a 22% increase in property crime and a 13% increase in violent crime during the first six months of realignment.

An independent report by the Public Policy Institute of California verified that convicted felons who would have gone to state prisons before realignment are less likely to be incarcerated or are incarcerated or shorter periods of time.

Realignment is already having a profound effect on some members of society. Prosecutors can longer use the threat of prison to deter criminals from committing more crimes.

“Ain’t no one really worried about going to jail,” said Matthew Aure, a 23-year-old convicted drug user and car thief. “They know they are going to get out early.”