If you release criminals from prison before they've served the minimum term of their sentences the chances are you're going to see an increase in crime.
How do we know that? Because that's exactly what's happening in California.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way, was it? In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Plata that California must reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons, overcrowding so severe that the Court — or five members of it, anyway — found that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment and thus violated the Eighth Amendment. The “Brown” of the case is California Governor Jerry Brown, who when faced with the predictably grim prospects demanded by the decision, saw through the legislation and implementation of what has been labeled “Public Safety Realignment.” This innocuous term is of course government-speak for “realigning” people out of prison where they belong and onto the streets of California’s cities, with the greatest share of them coming to roost in and around Los Angeles.What did Governor Brown think was going to happen when these miscreants were released back on the streets en masse? Most of them are going to end up back in prison after committing more crimes, costing even more taxpayer money that the state doesn't have than if they'd remained in prison. California could have done what other states that find themselves in crunch for room have done and transferred some of the inmates to states that have room in their prisons. (It's done all the time.) While it means California would have to pay the other states to house their inmates, it would have been cheaper than letting the criminals back out on the streets to re-offend.
It’s impolite to say “I told you so,” but sometimes good manners must give way to good sense. I’ve visited this topic on three previous occasions here on PJ Media, in each case referring to the predictable consequences of failing to punish people for proscribed conduct. Today, fewer felons are in California’s prisons, perhaps making life a bit more tolerable for those who are so confined, but making life all the more intolerable for the rest of us. In 2011, 50,678 people were sent to state prison in California. The following year, after all that “realignment” started happening, the number fell to 33,990.
Though Governor Brown and the lesser lights of California politics have sought to put a glad face on what has happened since, the inescapable truth is that crime in California, after years of decline, is on the rise once again.