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September 15, 2011

Despite death penalty's practical demise and a prisoner release order, California crime hit record low in 2010

I missed this AP report from a few days ago detailing that California's crimes rates hit record low levels in 2010.  Here are the basic details:

State officials report that incidences of violent crime decreased 6.9 percent in California last year, reaching the lowest level since 1968.

The annual "Crime in California" report released Friday shows that the crime rate went down in every category of violent or property offenses in 2010.  It was the fourth year in a row that violent crime decreased.

Homicides were down 7.8 percent, robbery dropped 10 percent and motor vehicle theft fell 7.6 percent.  Officials say since peaking in 1989, the motor vehicle theft rate has decreased 62 percent.  Homicide and forcible rape rates are the lowest since 1966.

The yearly report is compiled by the California Department of Justice and is based on data from police and sheriff's departments in all of the state's 58 counties.

As the title of this post highlights, I think it is valuable to keep in mind that this great news about California crime rates comes during a period federal litigation has resulted in the state having zero executions and having to figure out ways to significantly reduce its state prison population.  

Critically, I mean to make no cause-and-effect claims here; indeed, I think it would be deeply misguided to assert based on just this crime data that the state is obviously "safer" without the death penalty and without an ever-growing prison population.  But I do mean to highlight that this important and good news on the California crime rate front suggests that the many obvious dysfunctions in California's sentencing laws, policies and practices does not (yet?) appear to be having an obviously negative impact on public safety in the state.

September 15, 2011 at 09:11 AM | Permalink


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Thanks a lot for sharing this with us, was a great post and very interesting

Posted by: cooltasche | Sep 16, 2011 9:45:39 PM

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