LANCASTER – The recent surge in murders and burglaries in Lancaster has left many residents wondering what is happening and who is responsible. Some have pointed fingers at the parolees being released early into Lancaster due to the state prison realignment that began in early October.
Not so, says the city’s Criminal Justice Analyst Jim Kobolt.
“I don’t see any evidence for it,” Kobolt told the Lancaster Criminal Justice Commission Wednesday.
In presenting the Monthly Crime Statistics, Kobolt said parolees accounted for only 8% of the arrests for violent crimes and 9% of the total arrests in Lancaster from May 1, 2011 to April 25, 2012.
Probationers accounted for 20% of the arrests for violent crimes and 22% of the total arrests during that period, Kobolt said.
“From an analyst’s perspective, I’m far more concerned with the people who have a prior criminal record who are not on probation and not on parole,” Kobolt said.
People with a prior criminal record who are not on probation or parole accounted for 38% of the total arrests and 43% of the arrests for violent crimes between May 1, 2011 and April 25, 2012.
Additionally, first time offenders accounted for 32% of the total arrests in Lancaster.
“One of the things that this city and the sheriff’s department have been pushing hard on is to get people to secure their property, secure their homes and their cars,” Kobolt said. “Typically the first time offender does not have a real high skill level in this area, and the first time offender is often times the juvenile who walks down the street at two o’clock in the morning and flips the door handles to see if the car’s unlocked.”
Kobolt said the city had expended funds and resources to crack down on parolees based on a perceived risk that the data does not support.
“We’ve seen an increased focus on parolees with the formation of a unit that’s going down and keeping track of them and monitoring them, but the arrests that they’re making for them are not necessarily part one crimes; they are for other crimes, for example a possession of marijuana, maybe possession of stolen property,” Kobolt said. “The only movement we are seeing with part one crimes (committed by parolees) is a downward trend.
Kobolt suggested the city use its arrest data to shift its resources to the real problem – first time offenders and arrestees with a prior criminal history.
“It’s great to draw assumptions and everything else, but we’re dealing right now with a time of scarce resources and a limited amount of money,” Kobolt said. “When we have one group that’s showing an upward trajectory and we have another group that’s showing a downward trajectory, I have to look at that and wonder.”
The City’s crime data was gathered using the booking slips from arrests that occurred within the Lancaster city limits. The data also revealed that homicides and burglaries were trending up, while robberies, assaults and larceny were trending down.
The view the complete report presented at the Lancaster Criminal Justice Commission Meeting Wednesday, click here, and then click “May” from the list of links.