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The past 15 years have seen the most rapid drop in violent crime rates in the nation's history. According to the preliminary statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the number of violent crimes dropped about 5 percent from 2008 to 2009. In particular, America's population has grown which means that the rate of violent crime has dropped even more.
When you think of crime, one would have expected a rise, not a fall, in violent crime. This is confusing because for one violent crime is more common among the poor and the percentage of Americans who are poor has been increasing since about 2000.
The most reliable measure of violent crime is the homicide rate which has dropped 40 percent in the last 15 years. According to the Berkeley blog written by Claude Fischer, Americans kill one another at a much higher rate and have been notably more violent than residents of comparable western European nations since about the mid or late 19th century.
This graph shows the American homicide rate over the last century-plus.
The puzzle compounds. We see a cyclical pattern, a high plateau in the 1920s and early '30s; a rapid drop of more than half to a low point in the late 1950s; then, a sharp rise, more than doubling, by 1980 and 1990; and then what will probably be a drop of nearly half by 2009. These are huge swings. (Technical note: The early numbers are based on Eckberg's corrections.)
Violent crime in the U.S., although it is still high by first-world standards, it is trending downward. The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducts the annual National Crime Victimization Survey's that captures crimes not reported to the police which are not biased because this information is voluntary from the victims across the United States.
Property crime is a type of crime that includes burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, shoplifting and vandalism and has straggling been declining as well. Our country's overall crime rates are displayed within two different indices, (1) The Property crime index and (2) Violent crime index which consists of assault, robbery, rape, and homicide. These statistics for the index offenses are available as a whole in all the fifty states across the United States.
Three strikes laws are statutes which became very popular in the 1990's which require state courts to hand down sentences of life imprisonment to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. What is so puzzling is that after some extensive research about the impact of the three strikes law enactment, Justice Policy Institute reported after years of analysis from the FBI Uniform Crime Report data found that three strike states were no better than states that did not adopt strikes laws. The three strikes laws did not necessarily lead to a drop in crime since the national average crime rate dropped by more than 30 percent in the past 15 years even though 26 states did not adopt the statutes.
According to the Berkeley blog written by Claude Fischer, Immigration (cities and neighborhoods that have received the largest influx of immigrants) have had the largest drops in criminal violence. Immigrants across the nation do commit serious crimes such as property crime and violent crime but at rates that are generally lower than their native-born counterparts, according to U.S. Census Bureau data that's on file. Based on the empirical data the large majority of immigrants who enter the United States, legally or illegally, they tend to come here to work for their families and save to support their families. Once inside our country, they want to stay out of trouble at all means and not jeopardize their opportunity of the America dream to earn income in a our relatively free and open economy that many others cannot experience in their home land.
The United States homicide rate, which has declined a great deal since 1991, is still among the highest in the industrialized world. In some areas, police agencies are almost free of any type serious crimes as they mainly deal with minor traffic violations and misdemeanors, while other agencies are plagued by some of the highest serious crime rates in the industrialized world. Also it is important to note that the above statistics exclude city's suburbs and only indicate the crime rates within the jurisdiction of a given city's police department. Research indicates from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports Bureau of Justice Statistics that the southern states have the highest overall crime rates. The reason for the vast difference between the country lowest crime rates area versus the southern states because most of the southern states have a poor house hold income compared to the northern states. The southern states such as Florida, Louisiana and Georgia are the nation's poorer states but the crimes rates are much higher than the national average which explains one reason why violent crime is more common among the poor. In conclusions, America's crime rates are at a major low and this is largely due to the fact of our country's large incarcerations rate which make up about 5 percent of the world's population. Although millions of our tax dollars are going towards the expansion in the prison population every single day, I believe that this is what it takes to keep our nation safe at night and help to decrease the violence of crime in America.