There were almost four incidents of violent crime for each thousand state residents, a similar increase to the country as a whole.
But police chiefs blame Proposition 47 for an even larger uptick in property crimes. The measure, which voters approved in 2014, reduced some nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors, particularly those involving theft or drugs.
"You let all of those potential offenders go without adequate treatment and without adequate supervision, and they’re going to resort to what they have to do to be able to buy their drugs," says report author and Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner. "And that inevitably is theft."
The report finds property crime rose more than 7 percent in California, while falling nationwide.
Magnus Lofstrom, who researches public safety for the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, says Proposition 47 isn’t the only factor that could contribute to the increase.
"Looking at the change in the crime rate, year-over-year, doesn’t allow us to conclude what is exactly behind those changes," says Lofstrom.
Lofstrom says comparing crime rates to national averages doesnot take into account the differences between various areas of the country. In a study on the effect of the 2012 prison realignment, his report chose a few states that have held similar crime trends as California.
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