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PPIC: Lingering spike in California auto thefts after prison change boosted jail releases

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SACRAMENTO, California — A new study says California continues to see a spike in auto thefts since a change in prison policy four years ago forced many local jails to release more inmates early.

The Public Policy Institute of California said Tuesday that sentencing lower-level felons to local lockups instead of state prisons led to a 17 percent increase in auto thefts in 2013. That's similar to the bump seen in 2012.

Both violent and property crime dropped in 2013, and the researchers say an increase in property crime in 2012 was an aberration.

Jail populations continued to increase in the second year of realignment, but at a much slower rate.

As a result, early releases from jails leveled off after the first year, as did the decline in the prison population.

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