Recent Prop. 47 Study and Article Fail to Give Full Analysis on Crime in California

Police tapeMore people are leaving California than entering; so the question is why? Could it be higher than national average home prices, unfriendly family policies or could it be the possible uptick in crime? Underlying social pressures highlight the difficulty of staying in California and the continuance of progressive, Democratic voters to not look at the reality of what’s plaguing our state. But the patterns of who’s moving in, and who’s moving out, underline some of the social and economic pressure that have made California, and other coastal areas, so prohibitively expensive; but also progressively unsafe.

If you believe a recent article by Sal Rodriguez in the OC Register who quotes a study by University of California Irvine (UCI) professor of criminology, law & society, Charis Kubrin that concludes, “Prop. 47, didn’t have any significant uptick on crime,” then why are so many Californians complaining about increased crime while others are fleeing the state?

Before raising troubling aspects about this study, what does one part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, have to say about the Prop. 47 numbers? According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Crescenta Valley Station (www.CrescentaValley.LASD.org) here are the facts about Prop. 47:

“Following the implementation of AB 109 & Prop. 47, communities across California have experienced increases in property related crimes. An 8.1% increases across the State and a 10% increase in LA County.”

So whom do you believe – Professor Kubrin and Sal Rodriguez – or the men and women who do actual law enforcement? What Professor Kubrin doesn’t point out is how Prop. 47 downgraded serious crimes such as “drug possession, repeated shoplifting, forging checks, gun theft and possession of date-rape drugs,” which were all felonies before Prop. 47’s passage. The Sheriff’s Department also states:

“A criminal can engage in recurring theft activity as long as the value of what is stolen during each theft is less than $950. Illegal drugs – including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine – have been reclassified as a misdemeanor.”

Professor Kubrin and Mr. Rodriguez – neither one – asked, studied or considered why homelessness is on the rise in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County in general though voters and Democratic elected officials have attempted to address this growing issue. Drive through downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica or San Francisco and witness the amount of strung-out homeless to belie the fact that higher dollar amounts for felonies means what once landed an addict into drug rehabilitation programs now puts them back onto the streets to the detriment of the individual, businesses, neighborhood safety and communities-at-large.

Furthermore, what the UCI study doesn’t take into affect is how Prop. 57 (the ‘Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act’) and Assembly Bill 109 (released 45,000 felons from California prisons) were passed simultaneously in 2016. To study one without factoring in the other is biased, negligent and misleading. Mr. Rodriguez and Professor Kubrin, who authored the study, should have known better, also this was nothing more than an agenda-driven piece to appeal to a lowest common denominator that will assist more Democrats being elected in 2018.

Take Prop. 57, according to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Prop. 57:

“Allows the State to release 30,000 criminals convicted of ‘non-violent,’ felonies and classifies these crimes as non-violent: rape by intoxication, rape of unconscious person, human trafficking involving sex act with minors, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, hate crimes causing physical injury, and corporal injury to a child.”

Mr. Rodriguez didn’t report this and Professor Kubrin didn’t add Prop. 57 or AB 109 into her study. Shoddy research is what can be taken away from her study by not including these official reclassifying of crimes that were once felonies. Now add AB 109, which requires local jails –that don’t have the money, resources or ability – to house violent felons and what takes place is tens of thousands of supposedly low-level convicted felons back on the street; but this wasn’t added into her study or Mr. Rodriguez’s article as well. AB 109 has now taken criminals with serious felony violations and placed them in local jails instead of state prisons.

Disgust though lies at the feet of Professor Kubrin’s misleading and faulty research methods. First when you click on the actual study on the UCI website you are only given a Fact Sheet whose graphs are barely readable without being defined, definitions not put into context with Prop. 47, and most importantly on this “Fact Sheet,” how independent and dependent variables are calculated. As someone who has done studies, regressions and econometrics there is nothing of the sort in Professor Kubrin’s study.

She then states and Mr. Rodriguez blithely reports on a variable defined as “synthetic California,” that is part of the “Synthetic Control Group Study Design,” which reminds me of graduate and undergraduate studies and degree in economics where microeconomics is defined as having, “perfect competition.” Anyone who has ever held a job or attempted a business in the marketplace knows there is no such thing as “perfect competition,” just as there isn’t such a concept as “synthetic California.” And when you read the Fact Sheet the reader will find the study isn’t completed so that makes Mr. Rodriguez’s reporting misleading at best and a fire able offense at worst for so grossly understating the problems as public record.

Understanding regressions is very important, because Professor Kubrin states there was no causation or even correlation when she either doesn’t know what she’s doing running regressions or isn’t telling the truth on purpose. Regressions are used in econometrics and statistical analysis and goes back to high school geometry using the formula Y=mx+b where Y is the dependent variable and mx+b are the independent variables that either move the Y variable (causation) or merely cause them to move together along a regression line (correlation). If Professor Kubrin, Mr. Rodriguez and the entire UCI department of criminology, law & society doesn’t include AB 109 and Prop. 57 into their regressions or econometric studies then it doesn’t pass confidence interval levels. A fancy, boring regression term for how something has to be at least true 90% of the time to even warrant mentioning; and then it scales up to 95% and 99%.

To say Prop. 47 doesn’t show causation is irresponsible and she should be demoted or be made to take a graduate level econometrics and statistics for public policy analysis course. I took both and Professor Kubrin is doing the level of work that would get her kicked out of class, graduate school or possibly brought up on charges of plagiarism for gross academic violations.

Run the regressions, report on the economic analysis; and more importantly factor into the study and regressions the affects of felonious crimes going from $250 up to $950 as a variable and watch the causation affects of Prop. 47 coupled with AB 109 and Prop. 57 move upwards on the regression line into the 99% confidence interval level is what I’d predict. This is why people don’t trust universities and academics such as Drs. Victor Davis Hanson and Walter Williams believe most colleges outside of the hard sciences (accounting, engineering and medicine) have lost their way. Professor Kubrin proves that’s the case and Mr. Rodriguez shows bush league reporting without checking his sources. Next time, before reporting something, make sure the study has actually been published and more recent data was used for the study and article. Laughingly, the data used by UCI, Professor Kubrin and Mr. Rodriguez came from 2015. California should trust the L.A. County Sheriff Department over this worthless study.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.