The inmate population in the state prison system has reached its lowest level in 17 years, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The drop in the state prison population is due largely to the implementation of Assembly Bill 109, the state's prison realignment plan aimed at reducing the prison population, officials said.
On the eve of the bill's inception on Oct. 1, 2011, the state's inmate population was 160,295, or at more than double what the system was designed to hold. That number has dropped more than 17 percent to its current level of 132,618, putting it at 155 percent of design capacity, according to the CDCR. In 1995 the total prison population was at 127,462.
"The whole purpose of realignment was to reserve state prison for inmates that have committed the most serious crimes and are serving the longest sentences," said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the CDCR.
"The realignment is doing exactly what it was supposed to do," he said.
But local authorities say AB 109 has meant an increase in their county jail populations. While most have warned it has caused an uptick in crime, the link between increased crime and the implementation of AB 109 is under debate.
"We haven't seen an increase in the number of cases submitted since they started (accepting) AB 109 releases," said Michael Fermin, Assistant District Attorney for San Bernardino County.
But Los Angeles County jail numbers have increased by the hundreds, and in Lancaster, violent crimes jumped 16 percent during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011.
Of the 39 murders committed in Fresno by mid-September of 2012, nearly a quarter were committed by those on post-release community supervision through probation. Under AB 109, state prisoners up for parole as of Oct. 1, 2011, could be eligible for PRCS….Prison population decreases since AB 109 - DailyBulletin.com