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September 30, 2019

New FBI crime data for 2018 reports encouraging crime declines in all areas except rape

In addition to celebrating a certain kind of new year, this morning I am also celebrating the release of the FBI's crime data for 2018 showing notable declines in nearly all crimes relative to 2017. This Marshall Project piece sums up the data story in this full headline: "New FBI Data: Violent Crime Still Falling: 2018 drop extends decades-long trend, but rapes rise for sixth straight year." Here are a few particulars from this piece:

FBI data released Monday suggests that the violent crime rate in the U.S. remains on a decades-long downward trend, falling by 3.9 percent in 2018. Overall, the violent crime rate has plunged by more than 50 percent since the highwater mark of the early 1990s.

The drops came across categories of violent offenses, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter and robbery, and property crimes like burglary, larceny and vehicle thefts, while aggravated assault numbers remained about flat. The rate for rape bucked this trend however, up slightly for 2018, and in each of the last six years....

The overall numbers, recorded by police departments across the country and compiled annually by the FBI, are welcome news for crime researchers like Ames Grawert, who closely monitored an uptick in violence in 2015 and 2016 .“That's a really good sign that the long term trend towards greater safety is not in fact reversed, and that we’re moving past whatever happened in 2015 and 2016,” said Grawert, senior counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute at New York University’s School of Law. “It’s a reminder that two years isn’t a trend, and two years doesn’t break a trend.”

This main FBI chart has all the essential data going back to 1999, and I am drawn to the positive news in the property crime arena as well as in the violent crime numbers.  The data show not just a record low rate of property crimes in 2018 for the period of the last two decades, but also a record low total number of property crimes even though there are roughly 55 million more persons in the US now than back in 1999.  

Of course, the rates and numbers of murders and other violent crimes in the US are still higher than what is reported in many European nations, and so we ought not pat ourselves on the back too much.  Still, reduced crime rates are always justify celebration, and criminal justice reform advocates should be sure to not for skeptics that we are still experiencing continued reductions in all sorts of crimes at a time when all sorts of sentencing reform are being implemented or considered.

September 30, 2019 at 08:56 AM | Permalink

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