« Disconcerting report on the (declining?) state of federal statutory sentencing reform efforts in Congress | Main | New Jersey Supreme Court reverses murder sentence after trial judge says he always gives that sentence »

April 7, 2016

Public concerns about crime and violence increases, justifiably, along with increasing crime rates

Fgroul1z306minwfhuphkwThis new report from Gallup, headlined "Americans' Concern About Crime Climbs to 15-Year High," details that it is not only politicians and researchers who have noticed that crime rates are up in recent years.  Here are the basic details:

Americans' level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry "a great deal" about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014.  This figure is the highest Gallup has measured since March 2001.

Twenty-six percent of U.S. adults currently worry "a fair amount" about crime and violence, while 22% worry "only a little" or "not at all."

When Gallup first asked Americans about their level of concern regarding crime and violence in March 2001, 62% said they worried a great deal.  That figure remains the highest level of worry in Gallup's 15-year trend on this question. In the months leading up to 9/11, Americans consistently mentioned crime and violence as one of the most important problems facing the country in response to a separate Gallup question.  But after 9/11, crime and violence no longer appeared among the list of problems Americans identified as most important, with terrorism rising to the top.

In turn, the percentage saying they personally worry about crime and violence plunged to 49% by March 2002.  Crime worry remained at a lower level over the next decade, as Americans named other issues such as the situation in Iraq, terrorism, the economy, dissatisfaction with government and healthcare as the most important problems facing the country.  After falling to a record-low 39% in 2014, worry about crime and violence increased in 2015 and 2016.

The rise in Americans' level of concern about crime could reflect actual, albeit modest, increases in crime, as well as increasing media coverage of it.  The number of violent crimes reported to police across the country in the first half of 2015 was up by 1.7% compared with the same period in 2014, according to the FBI's 2015 Uniform Crime Report.  Many large U.S. cities reported spikes in their homicide rates in 2015, including Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. From a long-term perspective, though, violent crime is down significantly since the 1990s.

April 7, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Permalink


Maybe people are just idiots.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Apr 7, 2016 12:58:48 PM

Given his history, Merle Haggard's passing might warrant a nod.


Posted by: Joe | Apr 7, 2016 2:55:59 PM

All through the 1990s when crime was actually declining, Americans thought it was increasing. Perceptions of crime have little to do with the reality of crime.

Gallup is supposed to be nationally representative, so that 1.7% increase in reported crime is really driving an increase in concern?? Why even mention certain cities having spikes unless those are disproportionately sampled? The Gallup folks are looking too hard for connections.

Posted by: Paul | Apr 7, 2016 6:08:17 PM

I mean really now...what the hell does the average American know anyway, most are too busy watching biased news coverage and still believing what politicians tell them

Posted by: life is not for wimps | Apr 12, 2016 8:20:54 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB