California’s Prison Break

Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2013

Judges who rewrite criminal justice policy vitiate the Constitution’s separation of powers, but they may also endanger public safety. Consider a federal court prisoner-release order in California, which a new study indicates has increased property crime.

In 2011 in Brown v. Plata, a 5-4 Supreme Court majority reaffirmed a lower-court mandate that California cut its prison population to 137.5% of “design capacity,” defined as one inmate per cell, which in effect required the state to remove 46,000 criminals. The High Court agreed that the state was providing an unconstitutional level of health care and that the only effective remedy was to remove prisoners.

Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent called this “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our Nation’s history.” Judges, he noted, were not suited to make “very broad empirical predictions necessarily based in large part upon policy views” that are “regularly made by legislators and executive officials, but inappropriate for the Third Branch.” Also dissenting, Justice Samuel Alito warned that such “prisoner release orders present an inherent risk to the safety of the public.” Evidence now bears them out.

To comply with the court order, the state in October 2011 began sending nonviolent felons to county jails. Local jails have coped with the influx by releasing inmates early and placing more felons on probation and house arrest. As a result about 18,000 offenders are free who would otherwise be behind bars.

Researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California have analyzed the effects of this prison downsizing and found that property crime increased 7.6% in the year after the state began diverting inmates to local jails even as the rate fell 0.9% nationwide. Car thefts in the state rose 14.8%. This reverses a decade-long decline, which coincided with tougher sentencing policies.

The researchers found that the prison breakout had little impact on the rate of violent crime but “robust evidence” of its effect on property crime, estimating one or two more such crimes per year for each offender not incarcerated. {snip}

{snip}

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • dd121

    They have a liberal gov but someday a governor should just say no to these overreaching courts.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Indeed, the governor of California is a big lefty, but believe it or not he DID try to stop the prison release…and lost.

      July, 2013:

      SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is making one final bid to delay a federal court order requiring the state to release nearly 10,000 inmates by year’s end to improve conditions in California prisons.

      The administration on Wednesday asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to delay the order forcing the state to immediately take steps to further reduce its prison population.

      If he refuses to intervene, the state has said it will begin freeing inmates to comply with the lower court order, which is intended to improve care for sick and mentally ill inmates.

      Kennedy oversees appeals from western states.

      He is a Republican appointee who sided with the court’s four Democratic-appointed justices in 2011 to cast the deciding vote requiring the state to reduce its prison population to about 110,000 inmates.”

      businessinsider//com/california-prison-release-supreme-court-2013-7#ixzz2nmVXedH1

  • MekongDelta69

    Supreme Court orders prisoners released–crime goes up.

    Allow me to turn 13 y/o again for a second…

    Well… duuuuuuuhhhhhhhh

    • SFLBIB

      “Jennings Flummoxed by More in Prison ‘Even Though’ Crime Down”

      [ABC News anchor] Peter Jennings seemed baffled by two simultaneous trends: The number of people in prison is rising as the crime rate is falling. Picking up on how the Justice Department reported that the “prison population grew 2.9 percent last year to nearly 2.1 million,” … a flummoxed Jennings complained: “The number went up even though the crime rate continued to fall.”

      mediaresearchcenter . com/cyberalerts/2004/cyb20040528 . asp#3

      Perhaps the reverse of what Jennings said is also true: The crime rate will be down even though we’re releasing more prisoners.

  • Luca

    California, where illegals and prisoners have more rights and more advocates than the taxpayers who are forced to provide for them.

    • SFLBIB

      Someone [I think it was Lester Jackson] recently observed that a condemned murderer is safer on death row than honest citizens are on the streets.

  • D.B. Cooper

    So what? Let them run loose. It’s time for you California sissies to put up, or shut up.
    I heard from someone, I can’t quite think of his name, a black guy, I think. He said that the cops in San Francisco don’t have sirens on their cars. They have real “Q words” sitting on the hoods, twirling their fingers, and going, “Woowoowoo! Pull ovah! Pull ovah!”

    • So CAL Snowman

      “It’s time for you California sissies to put up, or shut up.”

      I forgot how much better it’s going for the rest of the nation. How are those Somalian “immigrants” working out for you guys in the Great White North?

      • Alexandra1973

        Nonono, the proper word is “refugees.” See, you have to elicit as much sympathy as possible.

        (My sympathy meter doesn’t even budge.)

    • Strike_Team

      You have no idea what is going on CA. Then again, you come of as actually believing voting can solve the dilemma for whites.

      CA is the “testing ground” for what the folks in charge want to do to the rest of the country. After seeing what the blacks and hispanics are doing in the Midwest and North as the folks in charge increase their numbers in those regions, I don’t think anyone in any part of the country has room to talk. And after having seen how people from around the country, the vast numbers of tourists react to up close and personal experiences with CA criminals, I’d have to say the least number of sissies I encounter are from the South, and from the Southwest. Of course this is based on what would be the “small samples” a social scientist would say I’ve worked with over the years. But I can say that I’ve encountered more than one case of say, a guy from Texas swinging for the fences when a couple of dark fellas try to steal his very expensive watch. In my experience, Southerners and people from the Southwest are more likely to be free-swinging and have more of a “you’ll have to take it” attitude than others. Not that this behavior is the right way to go in all cases, but these people seem to exhibit it more than others among whites.

    • Xerxes22

      That’s from an old Eddie Murphy standup routine from back in the old days when he was funny.

  • I know what the solution is going to be, because I’m seeing it take place in the state right next to me to the east. Another state that’s suffering from overcrowded state prisons.

    The Feds will grasp at whatever hook or legal justification they can to turn your ordinary every day garden variety street crime in Bell Curve City into Federal objects, in order to send them to Federal prisons. IOW, a gift to state governments. And since Federal juries in a given jurisdiction can be drawn from far wider geographical nets than state juries, you have whiter juries.

    Already, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Southern Illinois is trying to convict quite a few blacks who jack quickie marts and restaurants under the Hobbs Act, in that their criminal behavior interferes with interstate commerce. I fully anticipate that eventually, the Feds will make most “gun crime” (for the lack of a better phrase) Federal objects because either the firearm used in the crime crossed state lines, or one part to make it did.

  • JohnEngelman

    One of the few social experiments in this country that has actually worked has been the tripling of the prison population.

    During the 1960’s the prison population declined. The crime rate doubled. Since 1980 the prison population tripled. The crime rate has declined by one third.

    • MBlanc46

      John: How do you respond to the claim, made by Colin Flaherty and others, that the, or at least a, cause in the supposed drop in the crime rate is that the police systematically under-report crime?

      • JohnEngelman

        I see no reason to believe that the compilation of crime data is less honest than it was in the past. It is likely to be more accurate with the use of computers and more advanced statistical methods.

        • WR_the_realist

          Well, if cops are rewarded for lowering crime it’s a safe bet that reported crime will go down, whether real crime does or not.

          • JohnEngelman

            During the 1960’s and 1970’s when the crime rate was going up some people claimed that law authorities were exaggerating the increase in order to get bigger appropriations.

            Now that the crime rate is going down liberals are saying that because the crime rate is declining we do not need to have so many police men and prison guards.

        • MBlanc46

          You might be right that it’s always been dishonest. I don’t know that computers make reporting any easier or more likely, although they certainly make for greater manipulation of the data once it’s entered. I’d really like to see a serious study of this (difficult though it would be), but I do find Flaherty’s anecdotal account pretty persuasive.

          • JohnEngelman

            Blacks have always had a high rate of violent crime, even before the civil rights movement. That is the main reason Northern whites lost interest in Reconstruction after 1876, and Jim Crow legislation was passed into law in states with high black populations.

            In his book “The Emerging Republican Majority,” which was published in 1969, and which accurately predicted and explained the Republican ascendancy, Kevin Phillips said that when the black population in a state is less than ten percent it has little effect on the voting behavior of whites. When it exceeds ten percent whites get nervous. When it approaches fifty percent the control of those blacks is the issue nearly all whites agree on.

            The Civil Rights legislation was forced on whites with extensive experience with blacks by whites with little experience.

          • Laura Dilworth

            where can i learn about the precivil rights/reconstruction violent crime rate?

        • Fathercoughlin

          Does the name Trayvon ring a bell??

      • Strike_Team

        Crime is definitely up and definitely underreported to the media and the public. You can have some idiot tell you that the statistics provided by computers provide accurate results. That’s provides a good laugh to honest members of law enforcement as we all know the computers can only work with what they’ve been “fed”. Garbage in, garbage out.

        Years ago most police officers could go their entire career without ever having to shoot someone, come close to shooting someone or even pulling their gun on duty. This is no longer true in any large urban area in what used to be the US. But crime is down. The media says so. So do leftist academics. Hoo-hah.

        • Luca

          Not only is crime under-reported but has anyone else noticed that combat deaths in Afghanistan have virtually disappeared from the media?

      • Reverend Bacon

        It’s a very good point. The pundits who tell us about unemployment figures seem to have a good handle on “those who have simply stopped looking for work.” They use this additional (admittedly sketchy) information to decide whether the unemployment rate really went down, or people just gave up.

        Why not do the same with crime? Maybe the crime stats don’t include “those who have simply stopped looking for law and order.” I do know that people in my part of the world, albeit fairly upscale, don’t bother to report most property crimes to the cops, because cops will do nothing and waste everyone’s time.

        • MBlanc46

          “[T]hose who have simply stopped looking for law and order.”

          Nicely put.

    • SFLBIB

      See my response to MekongDelta69 above.

  • Ronald

    When the corrupt judges release “nonviolent offenders” back into the community, it does not mean that they are only releasing offenders who have not committed violent felonies. Rather, it means that the nonviolent offenders – in many cases as a result of plea bargaining – have yet to be apprehended and convicted of felonious violent criminal acts.

    • JohnEngelman

      Because young black men are so typically dangerous anything that puts more of them in prison is likely to reduce the crime rate. Of all the black “non violent drug offenders” who are in prison, most have committed violent crimes for which they were never apprehended.

  • Ragehol .

    How many of them were wonderful brown border hoppers, diversity “green card lottery” winners, H1b visas and “migrant workers” (yeah, right) and all the legal crimmigrants?

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    This started two decades ago and is the culmination of nonstop litigation over prisoner health care. Prison advocates argued that poor health care in California’s prisons violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

    Heather MacDonald writes:

    California now spends $17,924 per prisoner on medical treatment—six times what Texas spends, four times what the federal government spends in its prisons, and three times New York’s rate.

    A prison hospital at Stockton—opened this summer, at a cost of $840 million…’How many of us ever have 18 people helping us get less depressed?’ asks a correctional consultant who has sat in on lengthy discussions of an inmate’s mental health treatment plan.

    city-journal//org/2013/23 4 california-prisons//html

    These judges are terrorists in black robes! What they are saying is screw the citizens of California, all of us, men, women, children, babies, elderly all of us are expendable and not worth protecting from vicious, hardened criminals.

    All three judges were appointed by Jimmy Carter:

    Stephen Reinhardt — married to Ramona Ripston, who was Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California until her February 2011 retirement.”

    Thelton Eugene Henderson

    Lawrence K. Karlton

    The prisoners should be sent straight to the judges’ house.

    Yoga class at San Quentin:

  • So CAL Snowman

    Good release MORE of them. Let them rob and steal from the liberals. Once CA goes down in a blaze of fire we can be free to start the revolution.

    • WR_the_realist

      Unfortunately the liberals will just move to other states and repeat the process.

  • “Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent called this “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our Nation’s history.”

    It’s not — the federal doctrine of releasing state prisoners because the poor dears are being underfunded by their inhumane captors is about 40 years old.

    I was directly involved in such a situation in the late 80s when I was called by the City of Philadelphia to be a technical and managment consultant on the computerized building control system for the then-under-construction Philadelphia Jail. A certain federal judge had threatened to release what I recall as 7,000 or so inmates of the old jail if the new one was not brought on line by a certain date. The delay was mostly due to the building control system and I was pleased to be able to help get the project back on track and stave off the legalized jailbreak.

  • Katherine McChesney

    It’s all about their ‘three strikes’ policy. But, California breeds criminals and criminal behavior.

  • MBlanc46

    No one seems to be considering the obvious solution here: pony up more money and build the prisons required to house the criminals that your society generates.

    • Alexandra1973

      A lot of them could be sent home to whatever third-world hellhole they came from.

      • MBlanc46

        Another excellent suggestion.

    • JohnEngelman

      A prison system can be run at a profit to the state if we make the criminals work fourteen hours a day at hard labor.

      • Luca

        The ACLU will jump in and say that is cruel and unusual punishment. Sheriff Joe should run every prison in the country, he’s found ways around those shyster lawyers. It also takes jobs away that others might do. About all I would let them do is pick fruits and vegetables to decrease the need for third world labor.

        We should outsource felons with as much vigor as we outsource our jobs. Collect their DNA, confiscate their passports, and contract with third world prisons to take care of them at 1/6th the cost we spend here.

        • JohnEngelman

          The ACLU is a detestable organization.

          If cruel and unusual punishment is a problem, we should make cruel punishment usual. Problem solved.

      • MBlanc46

        Probably, but I fear that it’s unlikely that that will happen anytime soon.

        • JohnEngelman

          It is worth advocating. If prisons are forced to reduce prison populations, and if the crime rate increases as a result, It will become a popular idea.

          • MBlanc46

            It rarely hurts to ask for what you want, even when the likelihood of getting it is small. Sometimes it can significantly change the contours of public discourse.

    • Reverend Bacon

      It’s nice in principle, but the problem is that society generates more and more criminals. And our government keeps letting in millions of them at the border. And paying them to breed more criminals.

      The obvious solution is to shut off the supply of criminals, both at the border and at the uterus. Welfare seems to have created more criminals rather than fewer. Not surprising, when you pay someone to sit around all day and figure out how to commit crimes.

  • Strike_Team

    I keep telling people we are busier than ever arresting people. The media in SoCal keeps telling everyone crime is down. I guess I’m imagining things.

    • Luca

      I live in So. Cal in a nice neighborhood. I sleep with a handgun nearby in case some homies want to play the “home invasion game” with me.

      My wife thinks I’m a bit paranoid, I think we’re a bit safer. My only regret is I can’t carry in public.

      Crime is up, reporting is down.

      • Strike_Team

        Here’s an example; there’s been a problem with home invasion robberies in the Hollywood Hills for several years. The media once in a while will tell people to be careful about burglaries and so on, and run video showing blacks and browns breaking into unattended homes (they can’t find video of whites or that’s all they’d run). All the while ignoring the real problem of fun loving tropical peoples getting people to open their doors or just kicking the doors in and robbing homes with the owner present. And usually the owner will at the very least have the daylights beaten out of them. Everything is soft-pedaled.

        One more example; the same problem exists in Glendale, in the hillside neighborhoods. The blacks roll in from Altadena on the 210, hit homes next to the freeway, and get right back on the road and out of Dodge, on the freeway before the PD gets a call. Go ahead and check, the GPD will admit it. But you won’t see this on the news. Don’t want to get white people needlessly riled up over the behavior of downtrodden bruthas engaged in the struggle.

        • Luca

          My buddy rides with LA County Sheriff’s in that area, Glendale, La Canada. I have lived here 37 years, I have seen the death spiral and know the inside story.

          Law enforcement out here has to pass on petty crimes like car theft and have to focus on the heavy hitters.

          One look at the website for LAPD’s Most Wanted tells the whole story.

          • Strike_Team

            Then you know exactly what I’m talking about. For instance, most people have never heard of Altadena, have no idea where or what it is. But you would know it’s a pit, incredibly dangerous, and right next to some of the most beautiful areas in SoCal. I won’t say which organization I work for. I’m just a poor white boy from Highland Park. It was bad for whites when I was growing up, we were literally two dozen among almost 4 thousand Mexicans and a few hundred Asians where I went to High School. it’s only worse now. Completely filled with illegals. Bad illegals. No whites anymore.

          • itdoesnotmatter

            It is sad, hearing this about Altadena. We [x and I] had several JPL friends who lived there before it was infested. Their homes were in well kept, neat, White neighborhoods, with many JPL professional types in residence.

  • Spartacus

    This is why I’m in favor of a dictatorship, as opposed to a so-called state of law. In a dictatorship, you have just one guy who might go nuts and ruin everything, in a state of law you have tens of thousands, and it only takes one idiot to do something like this…

    • JohnEngelman

      Those who realize that they are politically in a very small minority may fantasize living under a dictator who agrees with them. The odds are the dictator will not agree with them, and that he will have them arrested, and possibly killed.

      The worst thing that can happen to political outliers under a democracy is that they will lose jobs if they spend too much time trying to proselytize co-workers and customers of their employers.

  • MBlanc46

    But what you’re talking about here is reported crimes. But if the victim doesn’t report it to the police or if the police don’t make an official report then the crime never gets into the statistics.

  • Strike_Team

    Good points. People don’t understand that in the end bureaucrats decide how things will be reported. Everything is political. The crime issue most of all, because the enormous amount of black and hispanic crime needs to be hidden by the monsters in control. The FBi doesn’t only report crime committed by hispanics as incidents perpetrated by whites in order to hide hispanic criminal activity. It reports these incidents as having been committed by whites in order to make the differences between black and white criminal activity, the numbers, appear smaller than they actually are.

  • Strike_Team

    Keep in mind the data is tweaked / censored right after guys like me finish our reports – in terms of that info reaching the public. Here’s a tip to those with the time; take a trip to the county courthouse in any major area, and then have a look at what’s on tap each day in the courtrooms. Then look at official statistics, studies, and so on. Even with seemingly 90% of heinous crimes being pled down (sometimes only to hide things) you’ll notice a disparity between what’s going on for real and what everyone is told.

    Or just go speak with any big city cop or major county sheriff’s deputy. Ask them if things are only up “marginally” in some areas.

  • Strike_Team

    You fight back enough and you’re eventually left alone most of the time. I learned this growing up around hispanics and blacks in L.A., having to go to school with them. The few whites were always targets but I was always a free-swinger. All of a sudden getting “big” in high school also helped. But even demonstrating moxie in one on one situations will not keep you away from the eventual two on one, five on one confrontations that are so common. Most of the time the savages will come at you at least two at a time. They are not as confident in some ways as people think. Too many whites get intimidated by trash talking. Ignore the talking and keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel.

    • Fathercoughlin

      What girls did you pursue when you were in this vibrant ghetto toilet school? Just curious.

      • Strike_Team

        Bless me father, for I have sinned….

        I had a Filipino girlfriend for a while when I was a junior. Then as a senior, I met a white girl from another school (which wasn’t all that far away) and stuck with her for quite a while. There were no white girls at my school when I was a junior and senior. There were a couple of white girls who were seniors when I was a sophomore. Glad they made it out. Junior high was tough because I was a very small kid, and whites were in the minority. When I was fifteen, I grew like a weed, and being big helped me avoid a lot of problems. However, I was so hateful of the idiotic behavior of so many of the latinos I refused to be on the football team because it might help them out in some way. Not the best way of thinking, but I did not want to be on a team with these guys. The coaches made my life miserable in PE classes lol. The dynamics of the “team” and the atmosphere of school, what had me thinking the way I did are too involved to go into here. And it’s not like I was the hugest guy on earth, just a big kid, 6’3″, 215 lbs. About the size of the real Trayvon Martin lol, not the picture of the 8 year old kid the media kept showing. There were some big mestizos, but most of the big ones were big in terms of a lot of bodyfat.