Trends in Violent Crime in the US – The Statistics

With the tough economic times and high unemployment rates, there is a fear of higher rates of violent crimes. It seems that just the opposite is happening. Murders and crimes in the United States are on the decline. Violent crimes reported by agencies in all of the United States have dropped over 6 percent. Murders have dropped over 7 percent. Rapes, robberies, and assaults have also had similar percentages. The exact reason why they are on downward trend cannot be explained. Police departments are worried that if the economy continues to decline, police officers will lose their jobs, causing these rates to spike.

When looking back at previous violent crime trends, it appears that rates increase and decrease every few years. The current trend has been heading downward for over 3 years. Tracking trends is thought to be a way to tell when it will peak and when it will go down. A current model, which has watched the trends for the past 50 years, shows that all types peaked in the 1990’s. Overall, 1992 was the worst year for violent crime.

Assault has the highest arrest rate. This category is commonly associated with fighting. Over 1 million assault incidents were reported in the 1990’s. Robbery peaked in the 1990’s to over 800,000 crimes. Now, the numbers have dropped substantially to less than have of that number. Murder is the same. It has almost dropped to half of the number that was reported in the 1990’s. Rape peaked in the 1990’s as well, with approximately 110,000 cases. Though the rate has dropped, it is not as significant robbery or murder. Property crimes show similar trends, but still continue to have a huge number. Though the trend shows a decrease, the number is significant.

It is important to consider what may have caused the rise in violent crime in the 1990’s. This could help them from peaking again in the future. Crime also dropped off rapidly after the 1990’s. It might be helpful to look at issues that may have had a factor is decreasing rates. Factors may include increased population or laws. It is hard to say without digging deeper. For now, they have been consistently on the decline for over 3 years, and seems to be continuing on a downward trend.

Criminal Law – Keep the Public Safe From Felons

Criminal law involves different rules that can cause the prosecution of a person for acts identified as crimes by the government. People found guilty of committing a criminal act would be incarcerated, fined, or both. Committing a crime means violating public laws which are established by the federal government, the state or the local government. These include felonies such as murder and rape as well as misdemeanors such as petty theft or jaywalking. Most felonies are punishable by one to two years imprisonment while misdemeanors are punishable by less than a year inside the slammer or other lighter punishments such as community services depending on the weight and kind of crime committed.

Ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians were the first to write codes of laws but did not distinguish civil and criminal laws. Most violations of the written laws were punished accordingly by physical punishment such as whipping or caning, incarceration which may vary from a day to life, house arrest, paying damages, or execution. As the written laws developed and distinguished civil laws from criminal laws, criminal sanctions are enforced according to five objectives:

  • Retribution – the aspect of making criminals pay for the crime they committed by placing them at some unpleasant disadvantage
  • Deterrence – this aims to sufficiently penalize offender to discourage him and other offenders from committing the crime and other criminal behavior
  • Incapacitation – criminals are taken away from the society so that the public can be safe from them. Prison sentences as well as death penalties serve this purpose.
  • Rehabilitation – involves transforming an offender into a better citizen
  • Restitution – this aims to repair any hurt inflicted to the victim by the offender such as paying for damaged properties or embezzled money.

The different crimes that fall under the criminal law statutes include:

  • Appellate law
  • White Collar Crime
  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting/forgery
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Government fraud
  • Murder/homicide
  • Tax evasion
  • Violent crime
  • Theft/property crime
  • Drug crime
  • Juvenile crime
  • Child abuse crime

In the United States, prosecutions for criminal law offenses are initiated by complaints issued by a judge or an indictment issued by a grand jury. However, felonies in Federal courts require indictment or a formal accusation based on the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Furthermore, the Sixth Amendment provides the criminal defendant with a right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State in both state and Federal courts, to be informed of the nature and cause of accusations, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to obtain witnesses in his favor, and to be given a right to a Counsel for his defense but can defend himself and act as his own lawyer.

How Is Crime Data Collected – What Are The Statistics Today – And How Can A Crime Be Prevented

In 1929, the International Association of Chiefs of Police started a program called the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. This program was created to meet the need for reliable, uniform crime statistics in the nation. A year later, the FBI was responsible for collecting and publishing these statistics. Today, crime statistics are produced from data received by almost 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the nation. This data is then published through several annual statistical publications. This data is also used for special studies and reports on an annual basis.

Law enforcement agencies reported preliminary statistics for 2006, which resulted in an increase of 3.7 percent in violent crimes in the first six months of 2006 compared to the first six months in 2005. Violent crimes include murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Property crimes, which include burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft, actually fell 2.6 percent in the first half of 2006 when compared to the same period in 2005.

Arson, which is also a property crime but not included with the property crime data, increased 6.8 percent in the first six months of 2006 when compared to the first six months of 2005.

Crime in the U.S. is overwhelming. We have to help our law enforcement agencies, as well as ourselves and focus on the PREVENTION of crime.

There are a couple of ways you can help prevent the unthinkable. Couple these together for maximum safety. The first way is to read, recite and remember the do’s and don’ts when in public. A few suggestions are listed below. The second way is to deter an assailant if a crime is about to happen. Deterring an assailant can be difficult if you are not prepared. Preparedness means personal protection. Personal protection can be purchased in different ways. The most popular personal protection item is Mace or pepper spray, which comes in various sizes. Stun devices are also popular. Stun devices include stun guns and stun batons and come in various voltages and sizes. And there are many types of personal alarms including Electronic Pocket Whistles, 130 decibal alarms and combination flashlight alarms.

Here are a few tips to remember:

AVOIDING VIOLENT CRIMES

Sexual Assault

1. Use initials instead of first names on mailboxes and phone listings.
2. Avoid remaining alone in an apartment laundry room or parking garage.
3. Never admit on the telephone or at the door that you are alone.
4. It is risky to accept a ride home from someone you have just met.
5. If you decide to physically resist assault, remember that your goal is to incapacitate the attacker long enough to run to safety and get help.
6. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, call police immediately. Do not bathe or change clothes or you may destroy evidence.

Robbery

1. Avoid carrying valuable items or large amounts of money.
2. Always think ahead. For example, when traveling at night, have your keys ready to enter the house or to start the car.
3. If you are confronted by a robber, the best advice is to cooperate.
4. If you resist, there is a greater chance that you may be hurt.

Bank Machines

1. When using an automatic bank teller, always be watchful of any suspicious people around you.

2. The chances of being robbed at night are much greater, especially if you are alone.

3. If you find someone waiting and watching outside in the area of an ATM machine, do not use it. Leave the area and report the incident to the police immediately. You could save someone else from being a victim of crime.

Street Safety (Use Common Sense)

1. Stay in well-lighted, busy areas. Avoid walking alone and avoid known trouble spots.

2. When you carry a purse, hold it close to your body rather than by the handles. Do not wrap purse straps around your wrist, because you can get hurt in a struggle.

3. Carry only what you need in a purse or wallet, not everything you have.

4. Avoid using shortcuts through dark alleys, fields, or vacant lots.

5. If you think you are being followed, cross the street and change directions a few times. Go quickly to a well-lit area with lots of people. Do not go home. You do not want an attacker to know where you live.

Always remember, if you think a crime is about to be committed or you are in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation, dial 911

Some Crime Statistics

Fighting crime is a priority of every country and every society, and the United States is definitely not an exception. Moreover, societies have to devote resources to fighting crime. Some countries have small budgets, while others have very large budgets. The United States has a very large budget to fighting crime. Moreover, there are a number of non-law enforcement entities that help fight crime. For example, public watchdog groups, advocacy organizations, and the courts also help hinder crime. In 2007, the United States was an impressive reduction in crime. Although addressing why that reduction occurred is important, simply looking at the statistics will reveal that the decrease in crime rates was notable.

Compared to the first half of 2006, the first half of 2007 in the United States saw rather large decreases in crime. Nationwide, violence fell 1.8% and property crime fell 2.6%. Moreover, in every one of the four regions in the U.S. violence crime in every category fell. Nationally,

  • murder dropped 1.1%
  • rape dropped 6.1%
  • robbery 1.2%
  • assault 1.7%

Additionally, cities that had over 1 million residents saw significant drops in violent crime rates:

  • murder rates fell 6.5%
  • rape fell 14.2%
  • robbery 4.3%
  • assault 3.3%

Furthermore, across the nation property crime fell in every category:

  • burglary rates dropped by 1.3%
  • larceny-theft fell 2.1%
  • motor vehicle theft fell by 7.4%

And amazingly, arson, not considered a violent crime or a property crime, dropped by 9.7%.

Clearly, the United States has met with notable success in reducing crime. But unsurprisingly, some crime has not decreased but has in fact jumped.

  • In non-metropolitan cities and cities that have between 10,000 and 24,000 residents, violent crime jumped 1.1%. Essentially, rural areas saw slight increase in crime.
  • In metropolitan counties, cities with 50,000 to 99,999 residents, and non-metropolitan counties, murder rates jumped.
  • Burglary rates jumped 3.5% in in metropolitan cities.
  • The South saw a 0.4% increase in property crimes.

So, what do these statistics mean? What is the U.S. doing right, and what can be improved? What works and what does not? Those questions are difficult to answer and need to be answered (or attempted to be answered) by professional researchers. Reductions or increases can be linked to a variety of factors. Rarely can they be linked to only one factor.

Crime statistics show that the United States crime, while definitely being address in the United States, still can have more resources and attention to devoted to it. Crimes will occur, and people will be charged.

The Economy and Its Affect on America’s Crime Rate – Past and Future

In the 1990s the crime rate in the U.S. dropped dramatically in all significant categories, including violent crime and property crime. Some experts attribute this drop to the strong economy that existed throughout most of the decade, when the per capita income increased by as much as 30% and the unemployment rate dropped by 2%[1]. These numbers have pushed many experts in the field to speculate on the potential effects that today’s recessed economy will have on the crime rate for the foreseeable future.

There is no doubt that a strong economy encourages a lower crime rate, for many reasons. While many experts could not directly attribute the drop in violent crime to the increase in economic strength seen in the 1990s, they did attribute it to additional state funding for police departments and crime prevention measures. The drop in property crime, specifically theft, was directly relational to the increase in economic prosperity[2]. The indications of this study show that when citizens have the resources to provide for their needs they are less likely to turn to crime as a way of providing for themselves and their families, and those individuals who are more likely to commit violent crimes are often deterred or caught in the act through increased intervention by law enforcement made possible by sufficient financial resources.

Studies have also shown that children who grow up in homes whose annual income is at or below poverty level are also more likely to engage in criminal activity as teens and adults, and a recent study done by the Christian Association for Prison Aftercare discovered that over 53% of those individuals who are currently incarcerated had an average income of $10,000 or less[3]. Despite the controversy that these studies have sparked, there is little question in anyone’s mind that a recessed economy, accompanied by the dramatic rise in unemployment and drop in per capita income that accompany the recession, will ultimately lead in an increase in crime rate if proactive measures are not taken.

The economic stimulus plan that is going into effect under President Obama may offer a solution to the threatening increase in crime. Through his development plan steps will be taken to provide for those living in poverty, including children and senior citizens, increasing federally funded health care coverage and tax cuts and creating a number of federally funded jobs that are expected to have a dramatic impact on the unemployment rate and begin to repair the damage that the economic recession has wrought[4].

One can only hope that these steps will also serve to head off any notable increase in crime rate as well.

[1] Levitt, S. (2004). Understanding why crime fell in the 1990s: Four factors that explain the decline and six that do not. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 18.

[2] Ibid

[3] Williams, J. (2007). Poverty and crime.

[4]Espo, D. (2009, February 14). Stimulus bill heads to President’s desk. The Free Lance Star, pp. A1, A9.