The Denver Post
WASHINGTON — The number of violent crimes fell by a surprising 12 percent in the United States last year, a far bigger drop than the nation has been averaging since 2001, the Justice Department said.
The reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009.
Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010.
The reality is that "we're surprised to find how much it declines," said professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School.
The big drop dwarfs the 3 percent yearly decline in violent crimes the nation averaged from 2001 through 2009.
More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010.
The combined total of property crimes and violent crimes was down 6.6 percent last year, from 20 million to 18.7 million.
The numbers come from the National Crime Victimization Survey, which gathers information on nonfatal crimes against people aged 12 or older by questioning a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.
Turning to rates of crime per thousand residents, which takes into account population growth over time, it is clear that the decline in violent crime is part of a long-term trend that began in 1993.
From 1993 through 2010, the rate of violent crime has declined by a whopping 70 percent: from 49.9 violent crimes per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to only 14.9 per 1,000 in 2010.
Half of this decline came between 1993 and 2001. Between 2001 and 2009, violent crime declined at a more modest annual average of 4 percent, but that rate decline jumped to 13 percent in 2010. From 2001 through 2010, the rate of property crime fell by 28 percent.
The rate for violent crime is based on the number per thousand population. The property crime rate is based on the number per thousand households.
The victimization survey figures are considered the government's most reliable crime statistics because they count crimes that are reported to the police as well as those which go unreported.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
The Denver Post