Criminologist asks if LA crime spike worthy trade-off for fair sentencing policies

After a decade-long decline, criminal activity in Los Angeles spiked for the first half of this year by 12.7 % across nearly every category.

Analysts say it is too soon to determine the cause for upswings in aggravated assaults, robberies, gang shootings, domestic violence and property crime, but Mayor Eric Garcetti said there may be a link to Proposition 47. Last year's ballot measure downgraded felony drug possession and thefts to misdemeanors spurring the release of a few thousand California inmates.

Peter Moskos, former police officer and associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says, "While I’m not convinced these stats on property crime can justify - or are even linked to - policy changes in fair sentencing, I think it’s disingenuous to believe we can achieve a utopia of lower crime and more just sentencing." He says it's worth asking what strikes the right balance.

Acknowledging that the correlation of this crime spike and the implementation of sentencing reforms does not prove causality, what trade-off would Californians bear to achieve less punitive sentencing for minor offenses?


Peter Moskos, Associate professor in the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former police officer