Las Vegas Crime Spike Related to Weak California Laws, say Police

Photo: Ethan Miller/AP

Photo: Ethan Miller/AP

Sin City has seen better days. The homicide rate in Las Vegas has spiked to 66 murders so far this year, up from 29 during the same period last year and it's overall violent crime rates have risen 22 percent.

The cause, at least partly, is due to relaxed laws against "non-violent" crimes as well as sentencing reform in California, say some police officials in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said in a recent interview, "We have seen individuals directly related to California committing crimes here in substantial numbers."

The California law change being cited is Proposition 47. Passed by voters in 2014, the new law made many previously regarded felonies, such as drug possession and theft, into misdemeanors, preventing many individuals from being incarcerated for their behavior.

This may have helped ease overcrowded jails and prisons, the argument goes, but it directly led to more crimes being committed as individuals inclined toward criminal behavior were free to roam the streets instead of serving their time behind bars.

The jury is still out on whether or not California's sentencing reforms and the easing of criminal sanctions will play a significant role in the rate of crime in the Golden State, and elsewhere, but some officials find the early data troubling.

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