After a 2009 court ruling in which California was ordered to reduce its prison population significantly within three years, the state has taken extraordinary steps to reduce the number of people in its prisons. During the same period, the violent crime rate also fell by 21 percent – more than the national average decrease, according to a recent report by the Sentencing Project.
The study found that between 2006 and 2012, violent crime nationwide decreased by 19 percent and the number of people imprisoned in state prison systems fell by 1 percent. California, however, topped both these numbers, reducing its violent crime rates by 21 percent and its imprisonment rates by 23 percent.
Two other states, New York and New Jersey, also reduced their prison populations during this period while also keeping their violent crime rates low. Each of the states used different means to achieve these goals, according to the Sentencing Project report. For instance, New Jersey reduced its prison population by overhauling its parole policies, while California did so by “realignment” – transferring many state prisoners to county jails.
Although California is making strides toward alleviating the overcrowding in its prisons, many reformers say there is still work to be done. Changing sentencing to look at a person’s overall history as well as their current criminal conviction and collecting better data to see what does and does not work are both recommended steps for the state to take in future.
Facing a criminal charge in California is serious. If you’ve been charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to contact The Amer Law Firm to talk to our experienced California criminal defense attorneys. Your initial consultation with our office is free and confidential.