CRIME SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER IN HUMBOLDT: State Prison Realignment a Direct Effect
Crime rates in Humboldt County are up. Staggering numbers have been released from local police departments, factoring in the state of California’s Realignment program that has been in effect for almost one year. How has keeping offenders out of prison and in the hands of the county affected our crime? Car thefts in eureka alone are up over one hundred percent. "They've already made me feel unsafe in a very safe neighborhood," said one Arcata resident.
On Sunday she had her money, credit cars and keys stolen.
"Being terrified that someone was going to return and burglarize my house was of a concern,” she said. She didn’t want to reveal her name and address, but she is one of the hundreds of victims of theft in Humboldt County, a number local police say is growing fast.
"We're just not able to stop that cycle for them," said Arcata Police Detective Sergeant Todd Dokweiler. He says Arcata Police have seen a 20 percent increase in property crime in the last year. He says its directly related to Realignment. Criminals aren't going to state prison, the county is getting stuck with them and there's no room in the jail.
"Some of our significant burglars and car thieves who've been caught this year fit into that category,” Dokweilier said.“I've never seen it this bad,” says Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham. He says property crime is also up- 10 percent from July of 2011 to July of 2012."We are impacting the rest of the justice system because we're doing our job,” Harpham says, “We're doing it too good."
He says theft is up 12 percent, and that car thefts have jumped the most; 102 percent. There were 22 car thefts in the month of July. But Harpham says making the arrests isn't the problem, its what happens once they do."We've got two issues here jail overcrowding, and the reason its overcrowded is because of realignment,” he says, “there's no deterrent for these people that are doing these milder crimes like theft. They're not going to jail and they know it."Dokweiler adds, "but ultimately it’s the public who's suffering because these people are re-offending, and re-offending, and re-offending."Stealing from people like the nameless victim in Arcata, who seems to understand why crime is up and why police can't fix it.
"If we feel like too many people are doing little acts of crimes and getting away with it then we need to do something about it,” she says.And what's being done about it now Chief Harpham says is that Sheriff's and California Chiefs Associations across the state are lobbying the governor to try to control this situation, because October will mark one year of Realignment going into effect.