Crime Moves Back Down in 2016 in Davis and West Sacramento

Mass Incarceration

It was nearly a month ago that Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig, along with Chief Probation Officer Brent Cardall, blamed the implementation of Proposition 47 on a cited rising crime rate.

“All of the major cities in Yolo County, Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento, have seen increases in violent crime and property crime in 2015,” he said. “We are surrounded by the very imminent threat, and I don’t think it’s going away.”

“We have this large Prop. 47 population which we really don’t have much of a stick any more to get them into treatment,” he said. “If we can’t get them into treatment, it’s like rolling through a spinning turnstile. That’s the problem.”

“Our efforts so far have been pretty dismal,” he said.

At the time, the Vanguard noted that some research in the state suggested that those conclusions were premature and cast some doubt on the conclusion that Prop. 47 is the driving force in the uptick in crime.

The Vanguard has received evidence now from Davis and West Sacramento showing that, after rises in crime in 2015, crime has moved down early in 2016.  The first quarter data for Woodland will not be available until April 15.

First-Quarter-2016-Crime

The preliminary data shows, at least in Davis and West Sacramento, felony crimes both violent and property, are down.  In West Sacramento the trend is dramatic with 2016 levels actually below those from 2014.

Violent crime in West Sacramento is now down nearly 28 percent, while property crime is down 23.5 percent, for an overall drop of 24 percent.

In Davis, violent crime, low to begin with, has held steady for the most part, with 18 such crimes in 2014, 18 in 2015, and a slight rise of 5.5 percent to 19 in 2016.  However, property crime is down nearly 16 percent, for an overall decrease of 15 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Davis breaks down by crime type, and, following a usual pattern, we see that in violent crime, rape is down (4 to 2), aggravated assault is down (10 to 8).  But robbery, which fell from 6 to 3 from 2014 to 2015, is up from 3 to 9 in 2016.  Last year there was the one homicide (the murder suicide last March), with none this year so far.

On property crime, we see burglaries are down slightly (81 to 78), larceny is way down from 394 to 313, but vehicle theft is trending up from 16 to 26 to 31 by 2016.  Again, this seems to following a typical pattern for Davis, where some crime is trending up even as the overall crime is down.

The overall conclusion is that it is too soon to tell – but that is what we argued last month and what we saw with AB 109.

As Mike Males, Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, put it, “It is too early to conclusively measure the effects of Proposition 47 on crime rates just one year after the law took effect. The urban crime increase in the first half of 2015 could be a normal fluctuation, such as those that occurred from 1999 to 2001 or from 2005 to 2006 (CJSC, 2016). Initial trends are often reversed later. In the case of Realignment, implemented in 2011, crime initially increased in 2012, but later declined sharply in 2013 and 2014.”

But that didn’t stop Yolo County Chief Probation Officer Brent Cardall from joining Jeff Reisig in his criticism of Prop. 47 last month. Mr. Cardall told the Board of Supervisors, “Prop. 47 has not been good, in my opinion.”

Both men blamed the lack of “a stick” to convince offenders to enter treatment as part of the uptick in crime.

“They’re not looking at a year in jail,” Mr. Cardall said. “They’re looking at 30 to 60 days. … I have not seen lengthy sentences with that population.”

To Supervisor Jim Provenza, he offered, “The judges could order longer sentences.”

The problem with shorter sentences, Mr. Cardall said, “is the clients would rather (face) 30 to 60 days in jail and be done with their sentence and be released. It’s difficult to have them under supervision and go through treatment if there’s not a stick.”

Mr. Reisig offered, “For 2015, California is leading the way in violent crime and property crime increases.”

But, while the conclusions are still premature, the new data suggest a different story – one that suggests that 2015 was a sorting out year and that it is too soon to tell in terms of long-term and overall impact of these major changes.

However, the Vanguard still believes that there has been an implementation problem with Prop. 47.

The expectation was that these sorts of crimes would result in treatment options, with the money freed up from savings on incarceration. That part hasn’t happened. And while opponents of Prop. 47 like Jeff Reisig lament the rise in crime, they fail to take responsibility for their part in it.

Sources tell the Vanguard that there was a treatment plan that would have been implemented in Yolo County, that all the other stakeholders had agreed to, but the district attorney himself blocked it.

Yolo County has some options that the DA has reportedly refused to utilize. One possibility is to divert Prop. 47 defendants into treatment at the Yolo County Day Reporting Center. The DRC was opened in February 2013 and it provides vocational training, life skills which are designed to teach offenders the skills they need to find a job.

One of the programs they have includes drug and alcohol treatments. That is an existing program which has received high marks.

The other thing that the DRC can do is job training, providing vocational and life skills to help them get a job.

From our standpoint, Mr. Reisig has a potential solution right in front of his nose, and refuses to use it. Earlier in his presentation he bragged about the success of the Neighborhood Court diversion program and how jurisdictions across the state and even the nation were looking to adopt it.

While the Neighborhood Court program has a lot of potential, advocates of restorative justice approaches argue that we should go further – much further. In November 2013, the Vanguard featured Fresno County Judge David Gottlieb as a speaker and he had implemented a restorative justice program in Fresno involving youth offenders.

Since 1982, Fresno County has had something called a VORP – Victim Offender Reconciliation Program – which has the ability to bring “victims and offenders together in safe mediation or family group conference settings to permit the offender to take responsibility for his or her actions, to make things as right as possible with the victim, and to be clear about future intentions.”

Right now the Yolo County program focuses mainly on victimless crimes, but Fresno has for 30 years been far ahead, bringing victims and offenders together.

Many have falsely argued that programs like restorative justice approaches are “soft” responses to crime. However, they are missing a crucial element. In a punishment-based system, the individual is incarcerated. They often maintain their innocence and rarely have to take responsibility for their crimes.

The district attorney, at the very least, has the opportunity to introduce a restorative justice program for what would now be petty theft charges when an individual steals less than $900 worth of property. Why not implement the Neighborhood Court as part of the process to deal with those individuals?

It is not that the expansion of the Neighborhood Court alone will resolve the problem, but the implementation of a real treatment plan along with an expansion of the Neighborhood Court will at least allow us to look at proactive solutions, rather than waving our hands and complaining about voter-implemented policies that the county cannot change.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

20 thoughts on “Crime Moves Back Down in 2016 in Davis and West Sacramento”

  1. zaqzaq

    First, David states, “Sources tell the Vanguard that there was a treatment plan that would have been implemented in Yolo County, that all the other stakeholders had agreed to, but the district attorney himself blocked it.”  What is this alleged plan?  You have a conclusion here unsubstantiated by fact.  I question the reliability of a source(s) who decline to be identified and where the details of the alleged plan are not presented.  Support your allegation with some actual facts like whose plan was it?  How is it different from and more effective than existing programs  My understanding is that there already exist two drug diversion type programs in Yolo, Penal Code section 1000 diversion and then Prop 36 treatment.  How is the alleged plan any better than those programs?  Why are those programs failing?  How do those programs work?

    Once again David makes a pitch that restorative justice is the answer.  How about some facts and studies that support the effectiveness of restorative justice compared to the existing system.  For example if the Freson VORP program is so great why hasn’t it been implemented for adult defendants in Fresno?  My understanding is that VORP in Fresno is a juvenile program not for adults.  You would think that if it is so effective after 30 years it would be expanded to adult defendants.  How many cases does the VORP program do each year and  how does that number compare to Neighborhood Court?  I did note at the VORP website that I could buy a $15 t-shirt though.  I would also note that from their site that their numbers are way down.  For example in the number of cases in 2011 and 2012 (the last two years with numbers) is well below 20% of the peak number of cases in 2006.  That does not support your claim that it is a success or maybe it is only effective for a limited number of criminals.  I also did not see and could have missed any information on recidivism of the defendants in that program.

    Once again you claim that Neighborhood Court should be expanded but you do not, nor have you ever, explain how it works.  All I can infer from this lack of information is that you do not understand how that program works.  Before you advocate of the expansion of that program please be able to explain how it works.  From looking at the websites for both programs they clearly are different.  One final note the DA website indicates that they also include cases where victims participate.

    It is now clear that the alleged cost savings touted by Prop 47 supporters was illusory and will never fund expanded treatment.

    Where are the Woodland crime numbers or do they not support your narrative?

    David wrote, “Last year there was the one homicide (the murder suicide last March), none this year so far.”  Just thinking back on Vanguard articles there was the Ket Mo Re murder last year and the 2nd street auto incident this year.  How accurate are the statistics you are referring to?

    Frankly this article looks like a cut and paste of a previous article here.  Back then I posed some of the questions above and you have never taken the bait with a substantive response.

     

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Missing in this is the fact that while I support other additional approaches, the entire premise offered by the DA and Chief of Probation proved to be premature at best if not outright false.

      1. zaqzaq

        Your article appears to support the DA’s claim unless your dates in the article are incorrect.  Just looking at the first line for violent crimes in Davis, 18 in 2014, 18 in 2015 and 19 in 2016 it looks like a surge in crime in 2016 since it is only April unless your chart refers to 2013, 2014 and 2015.

        Again I see two homicides in Davis last year, not the one you mention so it appears your numbers are off.

        The premise that criminals are opting for jail instead of treatment due to the short jail terms has not been refuted.  That is something even the LA Times reported on in that city.

        According you your chart crime in Davis is up in 2016 from 2014 while down in West Sacramento with no numbers from Woodland or other police agencies in Yolo.

        And I am still waiting for you to explain how Neighborhood Court works and why it should be expanded.  All you have ever done is say look at Fresno VORP.  Stop going VORP, VORP, VORP.  You have also failed to provide any evidence based support for using or expanding restorative justice as an alternative to the existing system.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          No, my article is an apples to apples comparison, so the 2014, 2015 and 2016 numbers are for the first quarter only. Davis’ property crime is higher than in 2014, but lower than 2015. WS is down from 2014.

  2. Tia Will

    “Many have falsely argued that programs like restorative justice approaches are “soft” responses to crime. However, they are missing a crucial element. In a punishment-based system, the individual is incarcerated. They often maintain their innocence and rarely have to take responsibility for their crimes.”

    I would like to attempt a reframing of the typical conversation about “being soft on crime” vs “being tough on crime”. Surely what is important here is not the posturing but rather how to “be effective” in the prevention of crime. To this end it is clear to me that those whose crimes are violent need to be isolated from the remainder of society for the duration of the danger. What is not clear to me is that prolonging incarceration for the non violent leads to greater levels of success in reintegration into the society for anyone. I agree with zaqzaq that these decisions on length of incarceration and use of alternative programs should be evidence based.  I would also suggest that we broaden that base to consider programs that are used in other countries given the high US rates of incarceration and recidivism which implies to me that reliance on our traditional “lock up the bad guys” model is not very effective when viewed either objectively or comparatively.

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I would say being smart on crime is a better approach. Throwing people into custody for minor crimes is not smart. Treating every individual in a uniform manner isn’t smart. You can be tough, fair, and smart all at the same time.

  3. Biddlin

    “You can be tough, fair, and smart all at the same time.”

    Not with the restrictions on sentencing that California judges are strapped with.

  4. The Pugilist

    ZaqZaq likes to deflect discussion.  The bottom line is that the crime rates are adjusting this year after a major change to the system.  BTW, I noticed some of the first quarter numbers across the nation are showing normalization.

  5. Frankly

    A quarterly change does not a trend make.  It is a slipperly slope to cling to.  I suspect that those doing so will end up eventually falling down.

    1. The Pugilist

      I guess that’s why he didn’t claim a trend: “But, while the conclusions are still premature, the new data suggest a different story – one that suggests that 2015 was a sorting out year and that it is too soon to tell in terms of long-term and overall impact of these major changes.”

  6. tribeUSA

    Good news! The only significantly bad news is the tripling of robberies in Davis so far this year–unlike assaults and many other violent crimes; robberies tend to be committed against strangers (could be any one of us); so stay vigilant late nites on the mean streets of Davis! I would be interested to know the % of robbers in years past (for which data is available) that come in from out of town (I suspect it is the majority)–wonder if the nightclubbing has been attracting more gang packs (as in the Ket Mo Ree stabbing) who might indulge in a little moonlight robbery before heading home again?

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    It still looks like property crime in Davis is up 25% since 2014, just (2016) down 15% when compared to 2015’s high number. Am I correct?

    Second, are we looking at felonies, or all crime? Could it be that crime is still higher, but a chunk of it has been reclassified to a misdemeanor level?

    Too short of a period. Heck, crime could be partly down because we had huge and consistent rain this winter. Midwestern cities know that crime drops when they have huge snow storms, I can see rain having a similar effect.

  8. Barack Palin

    Second, are we looking at felonies, or all crime? Could it be that crime is still higher, but a chunk of it has been reclassified to a misdemeanor level?

    I was wondering the same thing.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for