So it is here in Los Angeles. I have not seen a breakdown of the crimes committed by the 5,400 released felons in Los Angeles, but in an August 9 report for the civilian police commission, the LAPD noted that officers had arrested 3,075 of them, some more than once.
As is the case in California as a whole, the new state of affairs is beginning to show in the LAPD’s crime numbers. Although all types of crime continue to fall on a city-wide basis, in some parts of town the picture is not so rosy. As of August 17, seven of the city’s 21 patrol stations had seen increases in homicides from a year ago. The LAPD’s Central Division, for example, is home to the city and county governments and to many of Southern California’s major banks and law firms, but it also has the city’s highest concentration of ex-convicts. Last year in Central there had been but one murder as of this time; this year there have been five. In Southwest Division, home to the University of Southern California, there have been 18 murders so far this year compared with ten a year ago.
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone with the merest understanding of law enforcement issues. Fewer criminals in prison means more criminals on the streets, and they’re not out there collecting for the Red Cross. The crime wave of the late 1980s and early 1990s brought the backlash of three-strikes laws and a push for prison construction in California, the result of which was the long and steady decline in crime that has now sadly been reversed. If the state cannot afford to confine people whose criminal behavior should earn them a stint behind bars, it will pay for that behavior in other ways.
It’s just as simple as that.