A press release from the office stressed that crime rates are down drastically from their levels 20 years ago. Californians endured 160,629 violent crimes in 2012, far below a 20-year peak of 345,508 in 1992. That reduction comes despite California's population growing by more than six million people since 1992.
Nevertheless, the findings will likely serve as ammunition to critics of Gov. Jerry Brown's criminal justice policies. In an effort to reduce prison overcrowding known as realignment, Brown has presided over a push to send low-level offenders to county jails, in some cases spurring early releases.
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a Republican poised to challenge Brown for the governorship in 2014, has signaled that realignment will likely form a centerpiece of his campaign.
The statewide rates of homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all ticked up in 2012 compared to 2011 levels. The same holds for the total numbers of burglary, automobile theft and larceny.
Violent crimes increased by less than 3 percent from 2011, marking a rare instance of year-to-year violent crime rates jumping since the level of offenses began receding from its peak two decades ago. The total number of violent crimes has steadily declined since its 1992 apex, rising in 2000 and 2006 before descending again.
Arrest numbers decreased slightly between 2011 and 2012, falling by about 30,000. Driving that was a drop in juvenile arrests: while the number of adults arrested remained essentially static, actually increasing by 143, the state witnessed 28,743 fewer arrests of juveniles.
PHOTO: California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference at the State of California building in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Associated Press/ Jeff Chiu