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December 20, 2010

More great news on crime rates from the FBI

CrimeRatesDownAcrosstheBoard Thanks to The Crime Report, I just saw this exciting new press release from the FBI, which is titled "The Latest Stats Show a Continuing Decline in Crime."  Here are specifics:

We’ve just released our first peek into crime in 2010 — with a snapshot of the first six months of the year.

The early returns are encouraging. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January-June, 2010, the nation saw a 6.2 percent decrease in the number of reported violent crimes and a 2.8 percent decrease in the number of reported property crimes compared to data for the same time frame during 2009.

The report specifically covers the violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault ... and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.  It also includes arson, which is considered a property crime but is tracked separately for this report.

Some of the preliminary findings:

  • Reported incidents of violent crime as a whole decreased in all four regions of the country — falling 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 7.2 percent in the Midwest, 7.8 percent in the South, and 7.2 percent in the West.
  • In the Northeast, reported incidents of murder were up 5.7 percent, forcible rapes were up 1.1 percent, and aggravated assaults were up 2.4 percent.
  • Reported incidents of property crime as a whole declined in all four regions of the country — dropping 0.2 percent in the Northeast, 2.5 percent in the Midwest, 3.6 percent in the South, and 3.1 percent in the West.
  • In the Northeast, however, reported incidents of burglary rose 3.9 percent.
  • Population-wise, cities with 500,000 to 999,999 residents saw the greatest decline in reported violent crimes (8.3 percent) and in property crimes (4.8 percent).

Since 1930, the FBI has been tasked with collecting, publishing, and archiving reliable uniform crime statistics for the nation.  Our hope is that this report will continue to assist community leaders and law enforcement managers with formulating crime-fighting and crime prevention strategies....

As always, we caution against drawing conclusions about specific locations by making direct comparisons between cities.  Valid assessments are only possible by carefully analyzing the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.

This continuation of the great crime decline is notable and exciting for lots of reasons. First, crime rates in 2009 were already relatively low (especially compared to crime rates in the 1980s and 1990s), and yet further reductions were achieved in 2010.  Second, given that the economy has not been great and that many states have been taking steps to reduce their incarceration rates, there were crime rate reductions in 2010 despite the presence of legal and social factors that many folks believe contribute to crime increases.  Third, low crime rates should help skittish politicians feel more comfortable backing "smart on crime" policy initiatives over the "tough on crime" political rhetoric.

December 20, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Permalink


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These statistics are meaningless. They are affected by 1) the victim's decision to report the crime (a pointless, discouraging idea, leading to nothing); 2) the police not discouraging the report; 3) the police not throwing the report in the trash to avoid getting yelled at by politicians, mostly lawyers.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 20, 2010 12:24:06 PM

Wow! Glad to see that crime rates are down for the most part. Thanks for the information.

Posted by: Michael Silvers | Dec 20, 2010 1:11:56 PM

I guess locking 'em up and throwing away the keys does work.

Posted by: alpino | Dec 20, 2010 3:19:47 PM

"I guess locking 'em up and throwing away the keys does work."

Hey!!!!!! Watch it there, you are stealing Bill Otis's line LOL.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 20, 2010 5:35:09 PM

Anon --

"Hey!!!!!! Watch it there, you are stealing Bill Otis's line LOL."

I can claim my words, sure, but I have no rightful claim on the facts. Liberals for years have loudly insisted on two things: That economic hardship produces crime, and that emphasizing social services over imprisonment is the way to crime reduction.

The facts given in this report lend no support to either and suggest the error of both. In particular, we are at or near the peak of "incarceration nation," and crime continues to decrease.

Wonder of wonders!

It befuddles and infuriates the Left that, when you take off the street more and more of the people who commit crime, you get less and less crime. But it does not befuddle most others.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 20, 2010 9:58:19 PM

I'd be interested to see some more detailed statistics so there would be basis for comparing places that have made an effort not to throw away the key non-violent offenders and places that have stuck with the throw away the key mentality. I know the FBI is calling this a preliminary report. Any idea when/if there will be more specific information?

Posted by: John | Dec 21, 2010 7:45:51 AM

More befuddling still - though it's only "infuriating" for folks like Bill who reflexively support mass incarceration on an emotional basis - is the fact that states like New York which REDUCED incarceration rates and closed prisons have seen LARGER drops in crime than those that did not. So you can claim "throwing away the key" works - hell, you can claim unicorns come out at night to do battle with leprechauns, if you want to - but the evidence doesn't support that claim once you dig into it in any detail.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Dec 21, 2010 7:58:10 AM

Grits says, "More befuddling still - though it's only 'infuriating' for folks like Bill who reflexively support mass incarceration on an emotional basis..."

Again Grits purports to speak for me and, more than that, to devine my emotions. This is the same Grits who said that I am "just bloodthirsty, believing that all killing by the state is inherently, morally good in all instances while the application of common sense utilitarianism is for pussies." (More than a year later, after having previously refused to withdraw this preposterous accusation, he inched away from it, allowing that it might have been hyperbole, "but not by much," which is equally preposterous).

Now again we have the privilege of Grits telling me what I think and why.

I am a lawyer with about 30 years experience and I now teach law at Georgetown Law School. Grits is a publicist and blogger. If he has any legal or psychological training whatever, he's never said so.

I will let Grits speak for himself, and I will speak for myself. He has not met me, doesn't know me, and doesn't speak for me.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 21, 2010 11:17:57 AM

John, here is what we have so far:


The final report for 2009 was issued September 2010.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Dec 21, 2010 2:12:17 PM

Thanks, Kent.

What to make of LA and SF having similar drops in crime and pretty different DAs at the helm (I believe your blog had pretty strong things to say about at least one of the two in the recent election)? Like many of these studies, I find it tempting to generalize much broader than the data will suggest. Perhaps that was the point of NY comment. And what about NY? Is Grits wrong about incarceration rates & crime rates both falling? Maybe NY is an outlier or otherwise explainable, but I'd be interested in a response to the substance of his comment. (It sounds like there is a back story between a couple of the commenters).

My hunch is that different individuals are suited to different programs. e.g. A drug addict would likely benefit more from hospitalization than incarceration. Whereas someone with borderline personality disorder is probably better suited to incarceration.

That said, I'm no professor or psychologist (or publicist or blogger). And I'm only recently a lawyer.

I guess the good news is that there is less crime, despite expectations to the contrary.

Posted by: John | Dec 21, 2010 3:44:55 PM

John --

It's always possible to cherry pick some jurisdiction that is in one way or another an anomaly in the overall trend. This is neither new nor enlightening; indeed, when statistics are involved, it is to be expected.

But over an extended period of time, and across the entire nation, through good times and not so good times, the recent trend (last 15-20 years) is absolutely clear: As incarceration has markedly increased, the crime rate has markedly decreased.

There may be additional explantions for the crime decrease, and there may be a few states that buck the trend. But the across-the-board and long-term coincidence of more imprisonment and less crime is neither arguable nor all that mysterious.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 21, 2010 4:56:31 PM

New York had drops in the crimes they redefined upward. They had increases in crimes without a quantitive element, such as a dollar value. Murder is up, no matter what the phony counts say. The left wing ideologues controlling New York City are covering up the jungle conditions. Violent crimes is allowed to run rampant and largely unanswered because 1) the white power elite devalues minority victims; 2) the criminal is a precious, government job generating commodity; 3) the left loves evil, because it is evil.

Anyone feeling safe in New York City is a fool.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 22, 2010 12:07:12 AM

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