Arrests of felons ticked up 2 percentage points and convictions 3 percentage points in their first year of release, the period covered under the new law.
Part of that is likely due to prosecutors charging more parolees with new crimes instead of relying on parole violations to send offenders to jail for relatively brief periods, said Public Policy Institute of California researcher Magnus Lofstrom, who studies the trends.
“I don’t think that there’s any strong evidence that realignment is worsening the reoffending (rate),” he said.
Arrests declined slightly and convictions increased by less than half a percentage point over the full three-year period that the nearly 105,000 parolees released between July 2009 and June 2010 were tracked.
Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said one desired effect from the law was to reduce the number of parole violators who churn through repeated prison terms so quickly that they cannot take advantage of rehabilitation programs.
The department also credited increased substance abuse treatment. Offenders who received treatment in prison and after their release returned to prison 21 percent of the time.
California also releases parolees from supervision more quickly, meaning fewer are subject to incarceration for parole violations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report