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June 12, 2006

Crime rates jump according to FBI stats

Interestingly, on a day of two wins for capital defendants in the Supreme Court (basics here, commentary here), there is somewhat surprising news on the crime rate front.  As detailed in this CNN story, for "the first time in 13 years, the violent crime rate has jumped significantly in the United States, with the biggest increase in the Midwest, according to figures released by the FBI on Monday."  Here are more details:

The murder rate in the United States shot up 4.8 percent last year, and overall violent crime was up 2.5 percent for the year, marking the first significant annual increase in crime in the United States since 1993, the FBI said. 

Law enforcement authorities and criminologists reacted cautiously, uncertain whether the preliminary statistics for 2005 signal the end of a long downward trend in the crime rate, or simply a one-year anomaly.

This news make me wonder whether some folks might connect rising crime rates to recent SCOTUS work --- e.g., might anyone claim this is a Blakely or Booker or Roper spike?   The news also perhaps raises the possibility that crime and punishment issues could become a significant issue in the coming election cycle.

June 12, 2006 at 01:45 PM | Permalink


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Want to think about what is happening to the overall crime rate? The people imprisoned during the mandatory sentencing schemes forced down the throats of the states by the federal government twenty years ago is reaping its harvest. The chickens have come home to roost after twenty years in prison. I saw this early on and have repeated it many times over the years, and those that know me have often heard me refrain; ”What are they going to do with 40 year old adolescents, who grew up in prison?”. Yes, the get tough sentencing laws have created a new breed and society now has the burden of dealing with many thousands of immature ex-felons, with no family, no job, no friends and whose adult training normally learned while raising a family during their twenties and thirties was spent being told when to get up, to eat to stand and count and lights out. They had no bills to pay, no children to train, no responsibilities at all. I foresee a long trend of increasing crime across the board. There has been no rehabilitation and some have spent twenty years brooding, while they lost there wives, girlfriends, mother, father, brothers and sisters. What did Congress think, no there was no thinking involved, they were getting votes for reelection, and talking tough on crime got votes? Now it is time to pay the piper. How did no one realize that the majority of those locked up will someday be released, few got life sentences, the quick fix, get reelected parasites in Congress better come up with a plan to deal with adolescents returning from prison, the 40 year old juvenile is returning, bigger, stronger and madder than before.

Posted by: Barry Ward | Jun 12, 2006 2:52:48 PM

Without seeing the actual report it is hard to agree with Barry above. As Doug pointed out over the weekend Len Bias's case led to the drug Mand. Mins. and they came later. Those sentences should begin to roost next year.

I think the Meth. epidemic is in part to blame. The surge is in the Midwest and so is most of the Meth. epi. The problem with Meth is you are not going to be able to deport many of its offenders. You also can't really stop its growth given the present paradigm. Jail is just not going to be the proper answer to this one. Those that we have are already at a breaking point.

I would love to see if the figures bear out my hypothesis.

Posted by: That Lawyer Dude | Jun 12, 2006 4:20:14 PM

"...might anyone claim this is a Blakely or Booker or Roper spike?"

There are, of course, no limits to what people claim, but it is hard to see how such a claim would be credible. Roper merely exempted from the death penalty a group of people who very rarely got the death penalty anyway. Booker resolved the federal problem in a way that did not result in the major, wholesale, downward shift in sentencing that some had hoped for and others feared.

"The news also perhaps raises the possibility that crime and punishment issues could become a significant issue in the coming election cycle."

Well, maybe, but low crime rates have pushed crime so far down on the list of issues (according to various polls) that I think it would take more than a one-year spike to bring it back up. In a sense, the tough-on-crime movement is a victim of its own success. With crime rates in recent years back where they were around 1960, people who want to repeat the mistakes of the 60s are being taken seriously again.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 12, 2006 5:26:44 PM

Are these stats based on convictions or arrests/charges? None of the articles I've read about this piece of "news" says how these figures (like nearly 100,000 rapes) are derived. 100,000 rape indictments is completely different than 100,000 rape convictions. A rise in arrests/charges is absolutely meaningless, and likely nothing more than a ploy by individual police dept's to get some of that federal "anti-terrorism" money... their drug dogs need kevlar doggie vests, ya know.

Posted by: bruce | Jun 12, 2006 8:05:59 PM

Bruce, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports numbers are crimes reported to the police. The other measure of the crime rate is the National Crime Victimization Survey, which polls people Gallup-style and asks them what crimes they personally have been victims of. Each method has its limitations. The NCVS doesn't count homicides, obviously.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 12, 2006 8:20:31 PM

Is there any way the phase out of the COPS program had a significant effect on this? That program put a lot of federal money into getting more police on the streets. Of course, in a number of cases the state/locals didn't follow through and ante up the additional monies they were supposed to. But for a time, at least, the Justice Dept. was touting the fact that there were a lot more local cops on the beat in big cities.

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