- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

Early releases from county jails and state prisons in California have accelerated since the state gave counties responsibility for locking up lower-level offenders under a law that took effect in October 2011. At the same time, capacity to hold inmates has been increasing and statewide crime rates have been falling.

Effects of the realignment law by the numbers:

County jails:

- A 28 percent increase in the number of early releases of county jail inmates comparing January through March of 2011 to the same three-month period this year, the most recent figures available. That includes those awaiting trial and those already convicted.

- County jail populations statewide have increased by nearly 11,000 inmates since the realignment law took effect.

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State prisons:

- Nearly 3,300 second-strikers serving sentences for nonviolent, non-sex crimes were released early from prison from January through September this year because federal judges ordered the state to reduce prison crowding. The 607 inmates freed in September were released an average of 51 days earlier than they previously would have been.

- About 1,900 third-strike inmates have been released after voters approved Proposition 36 in November 2012, restricting a third strike to serious or violent crimes.

- The state has held early parole hearings this year for more than 200 long-term inmates whose crimes were committed while they were juveniles, as well as for inmates age 60 and older and those who are medically incapacitated. State officials could not say how many were actually paroled.

- State prisons have added about 3,800 beds through contracts with private prison operators and by opening a new inmate medical center in Stockton.

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Crime rates:

Crime dropped in all categories statewide in 2013. Compared to the previous year, the rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people was down by 6.5 percentage points while the rate of property crimes was down 3.9 percentage points. By category:

- Homicide, down 8 percent.

- Forcible rape, down 5.8 percent.

- Robbery, down 6 percent.

- Aggravated assault, down 6.9 percent.

- Burglary, down 6.5 percent.

- Motor vehicle theft, down 2.9 percent.

- Larceny-theft, down 3.1 percent.

- Arson, down 2 percent.

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Sources: California Board of State and Community Corrections, as compiled by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Chief Probation Officers Association of California; California Department of Justice.

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