Analysis: Even Under Crime Rate Increases, Reason For Hope


Crime Tape

For the first time in over a decade, crime rose across the board in Los Angeles, including a 19.9 percent increase in violent crime along with a 10.3 percent increase in property crime, the LA Times reported. They noted, “The increases follow more than a decade of steep declines in crime, particularly in homicides.”

The article notes that police officials are putting those numbers into context against the backdrop of historical lows at the same time, noting that “the increases have sparked concern in neighborhoods across the city, including Southside areas that have seen jumps in gang-related homicides as well as more affluent areas where residents have complained about thefts and car break-ins.”

What I found more interesting was, drilling deep into the article, we can see a genesis for a new approach – and one that doesn’t involve cracking heads – that seems to be producing results.

The article reports on what happened in South Los Angeles (the area that used to be known as South Central), which “saw troubling increases in violent crime this year. The area experienced its deadliest August since 2007, with 15 people killed in the last two weeks of the month.”

So the upper brass deployed its Metro squad which has a bad reputation for “hard-charging tactics,” to put it euphemistically. Those officers were deployed in some of the hot spots and worked with gang intervention workers.

The approach got results and, by the fall, the Times reports, “the homicide numbers in the area had returned to levels comparable to recent years.”

But they didn’t come in cracking heads this time. The Times reports, “City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents the area, praised police for increasing patrols without creating an oppressive atmosphere for residents.”

“There is the knee-jerk reaction of sending in the cavalry to occupy the streets, and I think they resisted that instinct,” Mr. Harris-Dawson said. “I think their integration in the community makes it much easier for the community to work with the police rather than be concerned about what the police might do.”

The critical findings are that, since the LAPD shifted their approach with Metro in July, “citywide violent crime figures dropped 1 percentage point, while the property crime rate did not change.”

Writes the Times, “Police officials said they believe their strategies are showing signs of success. The Metro unit has taken 236 guns off the streets since July, nearly three times as many as in the first half of the year, Moore said. Felony arrests by Metro officers have also tripled, he said.”

In other words, by shifting tactics, they were able to, over the period of nearly half a year, stabilize the crime rate. They did so without having to result to overly-aggressive tactics that would have undermined police-community relations. And they did so within the framework of existing laws like Proposition 47 and AB 109.

Across the country, many are putting the blame for rising crime in some cities on Ferguson and related protests, but in California, the key variable is more likely Prop. 47. This was passed November of 2014 by the voters and has led to the release of about 13,000 offenders from prisons and jails while it has reduced the penalty for new offenses for a handful of drug and property crimes by reclassifying them from felonies to misdemeanors.

Crime is now up in California, particularly in the largest cities, and many are blaming Prop. 47 for the crime increases.

As Seven Greenhut wrote early in December, “Certainly, there’s nothing ridiculous about asserting that letting more offenders out on the street might lead to higher crime rates. But just because the correlation exists and the theory is plausible doesn’t prove causation.”

However, Michael Romano, director of the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project, which was a key sponsor of Prop. 47, argues, “The correlation that is suggested by some law enforcement officials, frankly, does not square with the available data, and, certainly, the data that has been released by state agencies… indicates that those who’ve been released early under Proposition 47 are not responsible for the crimes being reported.”

Instead, they argue that the recidivism rate is very low for people released under Prop. 47, “less than 5 percent of state prisoners released under Proposition 47 have been convicted of new crimes and returned to prison. Any increase in crime throughout the state really should not be attributed to those released from prison under Proposition 47. And since the enactment of Proposition 47, early releases from county jails due to overcrowding are down by approximately 35 percent statewide.”

As the Vanguard reported earlier this year, the ACLU’s report shows that Prop. 47 has been a success based on reduced incarceration rates and predicted cost savings. However, they write, “The fact is that it’s way too early to assess 2015 crime rates in California at all, let alone potential causes.”

They note that, while crime has increased in some communities, it is far from a statewide trend. Moreover, they argue, the implementation rate has been inconsistent across the state where some local law enforcement officials have displayed “a disappointing level of resistance” in their response to Proposition 47.

“Some are making irresponsible and inaccurate statements linking Prop. 47 and crime,” the report says. “Others are falsely claiming that they are no longer able to arrest people for petty crime or that a misdemeanor is not a ‘real’ penalty.”

Mr. Greenhut notes, “Proposition 47 isn’t the only major reform that has softened California’s tough approach toward crime and incarceration. The Brown administration implemented a ‘realignment’ program that has moved prisoners from state penitentiaries to the county jails (and included early releases) to comply with a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding. Voters also reformed California’s toughest-in-the-nation Three Strikes law in 2012.”

He writes, “Crime rates have generally fallen since those two far-reaching criminal-justice-related reforms. The Public Policy Institute of California last year noted that state violent crime rates are at their lowest level since the 1960s and property crime rates are near record lows. Those latter rates spiked in 2012, but then continued their hard-to-explain free fall.”

—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

31 thoughts on “Analysis: Even Under Crime Rate Increases, Reason For Hope”

  1. Barack Palin

    Instead, they argue that the recidivism rate is very low for people released under Prop 47, “less than 5 percent of state prisoners released under Proposition 47 have been convicted of new crimes and returned to prison. Any increase in crime throughout the state really should not be attributed to those released from prison under Proposition 47.

    LOL, you gotta be f’ing kidding me.
    Next they’ll be trying to tell us up is down and down is up.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      How so? If the normal recidivism rate for released prisoners is 70 percent and this group is re-offending as less than 5 percent, how is that telling us “up is down and down is up.”?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        And the point of that comment is that if those released from prison via Prop 47 are re-offending at a low rate, they are not the ones responsible for the increase in crime, it’s coming from another population group.

        1. Barack Palin

          Most would still be in jail and committing no crimes except for Prop 47.

          Question, how many Prop 47 early release prisoners have committed a murders or violent crimes?

        2. zaqzaq

          How many of the individuals released from prison by Prop 47 have been arrested for any crime?  That is the only accurate number that can be used.  This is really pathetic.  A person who was released by Prop 47 for a crime that is now a misdemeanor who goes and commits the very same crime the week he is released from prison would not be counted.   Shame on you David for being so misleading.  You are pathetically spinning the numbers to support a result that you desire.  Please explain why non-lethal shootings are up 72% in Baltimore.  Is it possible with improved medical practices that individuals shot today who lived would have died 10 or 20 years ago?  How does that impact the murder rate comparison going back decades?  Food for thought.

      2. zaqzaq

        That 5% only includes those returned to state prison and is being used to mislead the public.  They are lying to the public on the crime rate.  After Prop 47 and realignment many criminals will not go to state prison where before they would have.  They are now housed in the county jail on local prison crimes or the crimes are now misdemeanors.  You also need to look at the definition of “recidivism”.  I would look at the arrest rate for these individuals in other words how many of them were arrested for a crime.  I suspect that that is how you get the 70% and when you change the definition you get a much smaller.  Feel free to do a google search on the definition of recidivism in California.  Back in 2013 the Department of corrections defined recidivism as an arrest, conviction or return to prison.  Now the new official definition is arrest and conviction which will greatly reduce the number.  Our Attorney General presented her definition last year as arrest and charges filed by the DA.  What is happening is that the new definition under reports recidivism so now politicians and pro Prop 47 and realignment advocates can claim success and mislead the public.  What a joke and David has become part of this conspiracy to mislead.

        1. zaqzaq


          That is not the current definition nor is it the definition used in your article to arrive at the 5% number.  It is the definition that Harris proposed which was rejected.  The new definition is as follows “Recidivism is defined as conviction of a new felony or misdemeanor committed within three years of release from custody or committed within three years of placement on supervision for a previous criminal conviction.”  BSCC Definition  As noted in the Harris memo 72% of the agencies tracked an arrest for any offense in their recidivism numbers.  How recidivism is defined will cause huge fluctuations in the numbers.

          Neither the BSCC nor Harris definition include an arrest that results in a probation or parole violation.  I also believe that the old parole system has changed with significantly fewer individuals on parole.  I believe a parolee could be sent back to prison for a rules violation that was not the result of a new crime.  Your article references only 5% recidivism rate which only included arrest, conviction and placement in a state prison.  This does not include only arrested, arrested and charged, arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor or arrested and convicted of a felony where the individual is placed on probation or housed in the county jail.  That is why your number is so misleading.

          DP may be able to based on his experience to better explain this.   As an AG he should understand how parole and probation work and what the changes have been after realignment and Prop 47.  You may be able to ask Phil how Davis police tracked recidivism in his day. You have touted your research skills int he past. It look like you missed this one and got it wrong. Your link to the Harris memo gives you who is responsible right in the memo. All you need to do is go to their website for the definition.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Thanks for clarification on the definition – I think it’s a better definition now to go on conviction rather than arrest. After all you can be not guilty if you are merely arrested and charged. But you are correct that it may change the recidivism rate.

            I think with respect to probation or parole violation, recidivism shouldn’t apply unless they commit a new crime (in which case there would in most cases be a new charge). A lot of parole and probation violations are technical and therefore really part of the original crime.

            Finally, I understand your point about the 5% rate being on placement in a state prison. My article references the Standford study.

            Here is their full section on recidivism:

            By any measure, the recidivism rate of prisoners whose sentences were reduced under Proposition 47 is exceptionally low.
            According to the Department of Corrections, to date 159 of 4,454 state prisoners awarded reduced sentences under Proposition 47 and released early have been returned to state prison for new crimes.47 A prison return rate below 5
            percent indicates that any increase in crime over the past year should not be attributed to inmates freed from prison under Proposition 47.
            According to the latest recidivism data released by the Department of Corrections, 42 percent of all inmates released from state prison were convicted of a new crime and returned to prison within one year.48 However this data
            reflects recidivism prior to Proposition 47, which reduced several common felonies to misdemeanors and has resulted fewer new prison sentences.
            Furthermore, recidivism may be measured in many different ways (e.g. new arrests or new probation violations). The recidivism data provided here—new convictions that result in returns to state prison—is the only statewide recidivism
            measure available in California.
            More current prison recidivism data necessary for a closer comparison to the return rate of prisoners released under Proposition 47 was not available from the Department of Corrections within the timeframe of this report. County jails
            do not report recidivism rates at all.

            Bottom line, I get the criticism in the measure, obviously they believe that was the only data available. What that definition of recidivism tells me however, is most released under Prop 47 are not going out and committing violent crimes.

        2. zaqzaq


          The individuals released pursuant to Prop 47 were not convicted of violent crimes in the first place.  The big question is how has Prop 47 changed their criminal behavior?  Are they more or less likely to commit the same crimes that got them in prison in the first place.  If they are committing more of the same types of crime how has society benefited from the change?  With a reduced penalty are they more inclined to steal knowing that the consequences are limited?  What kind of sentences are these individuals getting for their now misdemeanor offenses.  If they are getting 60 days in jail where they once were getting two years how does this impact their inclination to do it again?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            But that wasn’t the question posed here. The question posed here was the changes in the law driving the increases in the violent crime rate/ murder rate.

        3. zaqzaq


          Where in this thread is there a limitation to violent crime?  Prop 47 does not really include violent crime.  It is more focused on on property and drug crime.  Your story starts with an overall increase in crime.   The quote I criticized does not limit itself to violent crime.  You touted Prop 47 as a success based on reduced incarceration and cost savings.  I can only assume those cost savings refer to prison incarceration.  How did you calculate the cost of the increase in crime to victims and government agencies who are dealing with increased calls for service, arrests and then prosecutions?  Nice try.

  2. PhillipColeman

    Pick any topic you want to advance. Anything at all. You want to support it by citing persuasive studies or statistical compilations.

    Carefully select the time frame that best supports your pre-conceived notion. If there is a statistical spike that defeats your intended purpose, diminish it by arbitrarily expanding the time frame forward and backward.

    Select a gerrymandered population or geographical area that tends to reinforce what you’ve already concluded. Take this skewed data, extract, and cite.

    Survey blogs and advocacy groups that share your sentiments, extract nicely worded persuasive assessments that give the appearance of being objectively researched, and re-publish them in blocked quotes. If you can find an author with a bunch of capital letters and periods after his name, all the better. If the author won a 3rd grade spelling bee, say the author is “award winning” or “distinguished.” Every person who ever walked this earth is “distinguished” at something.

    Find a complete dork or somebody that has a serious public image problem (countless choices abound) who has been published as opposed to your view. Quote this person’s remarks, letting the personal image taint the message, while at the same time giving the illusion of a “balanced” assessment.

    Diminish similar studies finding contrary findings by noting that they have incomplete data or flawed compilations–or in other words–opponents are doing the same thing you’re doing.

    Note a microscopic change in statistics (as in this instance, “one percent” decline in violent crime), ascribe the reason for the decline to the trend being promoted, and disregard all other possibilities, including such dynamics as inclement weather keeping large populations off the street.

    Presto, now begin your revealing story, “A New Study . . . ”


      1. Biddlin

        Well it would be for the police and prison industries. In fact, by criminalising so many activities, we have created the most expansive prison system in the “free” world.

  3. Tia Will


    Pick any topic you want to advance. Anything at all. You want to support it by citing persuasive studies or statistical compilations.”

    This statement is true, but totally ignores the fact that the exact same tactics were used by the “tough on crime” advocates whose goal was to build careers ( police, attorneys, DAs, judges, prison guards and officials, politicians) by using statistics to frighten the citizens into ever harsher sentencing. What we are seeing now may be misrepresentation of some statistics, but those who favor less harsh sentencing are certainly not alone in these tactics.

    1. hpierce

      So you’re saying those tactics are ok?  And maybe been used by elements of the ‘medical’ community, to build the case against “sugary drinks”?

    2. PhillipColeman

      “This statement is true, but totally ignores the fact that the exact same tactics were used by the “tough on crime” advocates . . .”

      Reading my response to be sure, I confirmed having said in the first sentence, “pick any topic” and later where I say opponents use the same fraudulent arguments as advocates.

      There lies the irony of many these self-proclaimed experts and counter-experts. They take a common data source, cherry-pick it for little nuggets of support, re-package it in a different context, and achieve opposite conclusions.


    3. PhillipColeman

      Look at construct of the remark you quoted, I’m unable to understand how I “totally ignored the fact” opposing sides use the same tactics.

      Later on, the rebuttal emphasized that opposing advocates use identical faulty weapons of persuasion.

  4. Tia Will


    So you’re saying those tactics are ok?  And maybe been used by elements of the ‘medical’ community, to build the case against “sugary drinks”?”

    If you disagree with my positions, I will fully consider any points that you are making. Implying that I am justifying these tactics is pure…..insert your own choice of word for making a statement known to be false.

    As stated many, many times, I do not hold myself responsible for the words of anyone else. I do not condone the misleading use of information regardless of who is doing it. I invite anyone to criticize me and provide what they consider to be the faults of my information and interpretation anytime they like. I will never pretend that I speak for anyone else. I would very much appreciate you not implying that I have made statements that I quite clearly have not.

    1. hpierce

      Re-read your own words in the post I responded to.

      You have clarified that both uses of the “tactics” are ‘wrong’ in your view [and, coincidentally, in mine].

  5. Tia Will


    I re-read both my post and yours several times before posting. I believe that I was clear in saying that both sides use the same tactic. I did not say that either side is right in doing so. Please quote what I said that made you believe that I was condoning the misuse of information by anyone. Then perhaps we will arrive at an understanding.

    1. hpierce

      Logical deduction…  you equated two uses of the tactics… you did not say you supported either, neither did you say you opposed both.  Coin flip.  You subsequently clarified.

      Best wishes for 2016.

    2. zaqzaq


      As a member of the Vanguard editorial board shouldn’t you take a stand when David uses misleading statistics to support his agenda.  The 5% recidivism rate he includes in the article is highly misleading as I point out in earlier posts.  Failure to criticize this means that you in your position on the editorial board condone these tactics.  What exactly is your role as a member of the editorial board or is it just window dressing for David’s opinions?

      1. Tia Will


        As a member of the Vanguard editorial board shouldn’t you take a stand when David uses misleading statistics to support his agenda”

        No. Editing the articles and posts of others has never been a function of the members of the editorial board. I am not a fact checker.

        Stating my opinion is an entirely different matter and you will find that I frequently do not agree with David. The most recent example was our difference in opinion, which I made public, on whether or not to accept adds from the soda industry.

        With regard to the statistics in the article, I believe that I made it very clear in my exchange with hpierce that I do not approve of anyone deliberately using information to mislead. One huge problem is sorting out when an individual truly believes the meaning they are attributing to the data or whether they are deliberately misusing it.

  6. Frankly

    Just like I knew would happen, social justice liberals pushing their anti-cop crusade are responsible for more crime.  How many more people have died, have been raped, have been beaten, or have had property stolen because social justice liberals have advanced this “cops are responsible for the increasing failures of the black community to advance socially and economically”?

    Law enforcement tactics and outcomes today are mostly a symptom of the carnage of decades of failed secular liberal policies that have destroyed, rather than increase, social capital in the black communities.  And now liberals want to double-down on these failed policies with their anti-industrial march from a “man-is-destroying-the-planet” justification…  resulting in even fewer jobs for the people in these communities.

    The only positive thing I can see is that police, previously in-bed with Democrats that rewarded their unions for helping them get elected, are learning the true cost of a deal with the devil.

    1. Tia Will


      social justice liberals pushing their anti-cop crusade are responsible for more crime.”

      Yep, those social justice liberals are out there preventing police at stations across the country from doing their jobs. Just like the taxes on cigarettes put a choke hold on Eric Gardner. So much for your belief in victim mentality. I guess that has gone the way of your belief in personal responsibility. Neither seem to extend to the police, who you feel are guiltless for not doing their job because of what some scary left winger might say about them.

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    Yes, a 19.9% increase in violent crime is a good thing. Ugh.

    PhilColeman makes a great point about statistics. I heard a radio guest host comment about health care, life expectancy, and how different definitions which make the US look bad.

    His claim was that in the US, if a premie (premature birth) is born and dies, we count that as an infant death, and it hurts our life expectancy rates. In contrast, this host claimed that in other countries, premi births are often not counted as infant deaths if the premature birth is at 5 or 6 months, record keeping is sloppy, inconsistent, etc., and the result is that these various studies try to hammer our medical system as 41st or 55th in this or that category.

    National Review

    “The fact is that for decades, the U.S. has shown superior infant-mortality rates using official National Center for Health Statistics and European Perinatal Health Report data — in fact, the best in the world outside of Sweden and Norway, even without correcting for any of the population and risk-factor differences deleterious to the U.S. — for premature and low-birth-weight babies, the newborns who actually need medical care and who are at highest risk of dying.”

    Read more at:

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

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