Realignment: more crime, but beneficial overall

Excellent analysis of realignment by Daniel Weintraub in Fox and Hounds.

Yes, 18,000 or so released felons have caused more crime. Auto thefts have spiked, for instance. 

“If your first reaction is to conclude that this means the policy change has been a failure, wait,” Weintraub writes. “That may not be the case. As difficult as it might be, consider this cost-benefit analysis.

“It costs the state about $52,000 to keep an inmate in prison for one year. The study found that each year in prison served by one of the inmates targeted by this shift prevents, on average, 1.2 auto thefts. If preventing an auto theft is worth, as one estimate suggests, about $9,500, then each year of prison for one of these inmates would prevent about $11,800 in crime-related costs. In purely fiscal terms, we were spending $52,000 on each inmate to save less than $12,000.”

Stockton/San Joaquin County have a reason to appreciate this analysis beyond the fiscal. The state has unfaily singled this region out to be capital of the California gulag. If the state does not find alternatives to incarceration, prisons will multiply here like mushrooms.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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