Crimes up, Humboldt’s incarceration rate way down…..huh?

Humboldt county Jail

After AB 109 and the passage of Proposition 47, everyone expected things to change significantly in the way that counties in California handle “Corrections and Rehabilitation”. We recently came read an associated press article, which highlighted the differences in incarceration rates between counties since the implementation of these laws. The article was had a lot of data on the hard numbers, but was a little short on the actual data of why different counties seem to have had such markedly different outcomes.

According to the article, Humboldt had the 6th largest drop of incarceration rates in California. Between 2007-2014, Humboldt’s incarceration rate went down by 32%. That’s a huge decline. The question is why?

Both property crime and violent crime seem to be on the rise in Humboldt. Pretty much everyone in the county has been a victim of theft, or other petty crime. So it doesn’t seem that the bad guys are committing fewer crimes. Is the change in the incarceration rate an indication of the high rate of drug abuse and drug arrests in Humboldt? Maybe, but that can’t be the whole picture.

What is the jails new policy regarding who to release and who to keep? It would be very informative for the public and the policy makers to know this information. For instance, we remember not too long ago when meth dealers were getting released because of “overcrowding”. http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2013/jul/3/eureka-meth-dealer-arrested-cited-released/

Is that still happening? We would hope not, but there’s no way to know without knowing the jails policy.

It would also be interesting to know how Humboldt compares with other counties. For instance, do other counties with steadily rising crime over the last few years also have the same decreases in incarceration rates?

Whatever is going on, it seems to the Examiner that with all the extra room in the jail, suspects who victimize people should be held to answer for their charges. Knowing that there is more room in the jail should lead Humboldt to conversations regarding how we should deal with the rampant crime. Will jail solve all the problems with crime in Humboldt? Absolutely not. But, will extra room at the jail help to keep the serial thieves and others committing crimes against innocent people held behind bars to prevent them from victimizing more people? We hope so.

Even more important is how to allocate funds that were being used to jail suspects and criminals. If the jails rate is down by 32%, wouldn’t it make sense to re-purpose some of those funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment? Using the money not being spent on incarceration for actual rehabilitation seems like a “no brainer”, but we haven’t heard anyone on the BOS bring this up. In fact, it seems that the BOS is more concerned with raising the pay scale for administrators in Law Enforcement than with finding funding solutions with the woeful lack of treatment options in this county. Hopefully the AP story will start some conversations that will dramatically change the way “rehabilitation” is being handled locally.

AP story Here:

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20150329/california-jails-wide-disparity-among-counties-incarceration-rates

or here:

http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/report-kings-had-highest-lockup-rate-in-ca/article_5f81282f-d104-529c-9995-0b5b2bd9f26f.html

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6 thoughts on “Crimes up, Humboldt’s incarceration rate way down…..huh?

  1. I’m just Spit Ballin’ here… You understand? Just Blue Sky thinking…

    But it occurs to me an empty jail cell does the same thing as an unfilled peace officer position. It saves budgeted money that can be accounted for as a “saving” and then spent elsewhere.

    I mean, the unfilled peace officer bit isn’t spit ballin’; that’s what’s been happening in the City of Eureka for quite some time now.

    I must applaud the County’s laser-like focus on priorities. Those management type salaries are certainly far more important than mere peon deputies and mental health workers.

    Not even a budget crisis distracts them from their worthy goal of making sure their managers are up to date on their pay and benefit raises.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah, I keep reflecting on recent quotes from articles and meetings where Chandler, sheriff, police chief, and other officials are really quick to mention the money they are saving by having unfilled positions.
      It really makes their claim they are trying to fill them sound thin.

      If they have positions to fill…why don’t they just say we don’t need those people?
      What or who makes them have to appear to be trying to find people for jobs the county seems trying to get out of paying for?

      Is it Go or Show?

      Is any of that reflected in whining about how ‘hard it is to find professionals here’ and the like…ie: are they really trying?….hmmmm.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. If one was to cross index to say, median income or home prices or whatever clever economic comparison I’d think you’d see a correlation in poorer counties ( the obvious conclusion might be they are letting arrested go to save money…that’s my theory anyway from that chart. Looks like many of the 6-10% lower rates are poorer counties.
    Are there any pressures or thresholds poorer counties face from federal or state funding that they are not meeting that makes them ineligible for some matching funding or federal or state support that would reflect in this chart?

    Was there any public discussion or any public vote on this as a cost saving measure? It might seem to be an even more important shift and decision that even Prop 47. Was some decision made independently in each county, was there some lobbying, some think tank, some organization spreading this suggestion, or was it just obvious to county administrators in these poorer counties?
    Is there any overlap to political affiliations of the DAs and county politics?

    Elements driving Proposition 47 were always an issue, at least the last few years. County DAs had been working on the issue of prison overcrowding for several years now, prison reformers and county DAs were trying to correct the three strikes laws…and since these charts are from 2007 we’d also need to understand how these numbers have been charting over time. The Supreme Court rulings on overcrowding and the Governor’s resistance to it and subsequent actions would factor into that timeline. (Wasn’t the judge on the Supreme Court a Reagan appointee and a republican?..only important for the rw commentors who will blame this on Brown/Obama/Democrats…any understanding may be more complicated than simple retail politics.)

    Anyway, a very interesting chart and thanks for it TE.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How about taking 50% of the money saved by the lower incarceration rate, and put that money into treatment (mental health and substance abuse). Seems pretty simple to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As much Crime that happens around here I wish they’d stop trying to “Save Money” and start throwing criminals in jail so they aren’t out the next day doing the same thing.
      I just read an article over on RHBB about a guy already on Probation, arrested for Home Invasion a less than a month ago who just got arrested for an attempted Home Invasion, again.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A society could choose to lock violent criminals in one type of facility, controlled by law enforcement officers.

    It could choose to lock mentally ill criminals in a facility jointly run by law enforcement (at the perimeter and in the event of internal violence) and therapists (controlling the inside except in the event of violence).

    And it could choose to fine low-level criminals, like shoplifting offenders, and lock repeat offenders up in facilities that would not require law or “corrections” officers except to retrieve anyone who left, and to transfer anyone attempting to assault staff or fellow shoplifters straight to jail.

    Misdemeanor convictions don’t forbid incarceration,they just put a limit on the time period allowed. Do we really need to put shoplifters in a facility designed to handle seriously dangerous people, at great expense, when we would put them in a low-risk facility with ankle bracelets?

    Liked by 1 person

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