Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reducing violent crime—how it was done, 1992-2012

“In the last 50 years, the United States experienced an extraordinary increase, followed by an equally extraordinary decrease, in the number of Americans victimized by violent crime. Between 1960 and the early 1990s, violent crime in the United States increased dramatically. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports, the number of violent crimes in the United States rose from 288,460 in 1960 to 1,932,274 in 1992. The number of murders rose from 9,110 in 1960 to 23,760 in 1992. The number of rapes rose from 17,190 in 1960 to 109,062 in 1992; robberies from 107,840 in 1960 to 672,478 in 1992; and aggravated assaults from 154,320 in 1960 to 1,126,974 in 1992.

According to the Bureau of Justice  Statistics' National Victimization Survey, 10,015,769 Americans were victims of violent crime in 1992, up from 7,827,356 in 1973 (the first year of the survey). The causes underlying these increases have been debated for decades in universities, in legislatures, and around kitchen tables. But one fact is beyond debate: the country reacted to this extraordinary increase in violent crime with extraordinary policy changes and public safety investments at all levels of government.”

“. . . Between 1992 and 2010, the number of violent crimes in the United States dropped remarkably. The number of murders in 2010 was down to 14,748 from 23,760 in 1992. The number of rapes was down to 84,767 from 109,062 in 1992. The number of robberies was down to 367,832 from 672,478 in 1992, and the number of aggravated assaults was down to 778,901 in 2010 from 1,126,974 in 1992.10 According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey, about 3,817,380 Americans were victims of violent crime in 2010, down from 10,015,769 in 1991. And these accomplishments were achieved at the same time the enforcement community made a new commitment to prevent and detect terrorist activity at home and abroad.”  Letter from Assistant Attorney General, Dec. 23, 2012

Reasons for the improved safety of Americans is debated, but they include (a huge budget increase, of course) the following:

  • reforms to policing
  • increases in the number of police on the streets
  • reforms to criminal sentencing,
  • increases in prison and detention populations
  • a commitment to reducing illegal drug use and drunk driving,
  • increases in treatment capacity
  • recognition that almost all those who go to prison are someday released
  • efforts to reduce reoffending
  • promote effective prisoner reentry
  • drug courts
  • "hot spot" policing
  • CompStat,
  • AMBER Alert system,
  • new commitment to victims of crime and their right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Report to the Sentencing Commission as required by law, December 23, 2012, Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Violent crime in the United States, 2013

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