Southern California breaking news and trends

LA County is sending drastically fewer people to prison post-realignment

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California's prison population has declined drastically in the last eight months.

According to new stats, Los Angeles is sending 41 percent fewer people to prison now than the county did before prison realignment. Overall, the state's prison population has dropped to about 136,000, the lowest in 17 years. Around the state, 18 counties showed drops larger than 50 percent. 

The numbers, compiled by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, show LA still sends more people to prison than any other county in the state — considering the county's population, however, LA's incarceration rate is pretty average. 

The big drops for California, CJCJ found, have been in drug offenders (down 60 percent), property offenders (down 60 percent), and parole violators (down 47 percent) going to prison. These are the offenders covered under the state's prison realignment plan, which re-routes low-level offenders and parole violators from prison to county-level supervision. Counties around the state have variously embraced and complained about the new system, which puts thousands of new offenders in their care. 

Meanwhile, a mysterious "other" category for prison committments doubled in the first quarter of 2012. CJCJ writes it suspects "some counties may be using the unspecified 'other' offense commitment to avoid realignment mandates." 

Update (June 15): CDCR looked into the numbers, and says that the "other" admissions have since been categorized, and that there was simply a lag time in data, not an issue of misreporting. 

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