Was Obama Right About Crime, Incarceration Declines?


In a fact-check story, the Washington Post says that President Obama’s reference to declines in crime and incarceration rates in his State of the Union speech this week was lacking important context. Obama said, “For the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together.” FBI data shows that the violent crime rate decreased by 15 percent since Obama took office in 2009. And the overall rate for federal and state prison incarceration also decreased since ’09.

It was the first time both rates decreased since the early 1970s, records show, so Obama's figures on crime and overall incarceration rates were accurate. But what he didn't say is just as important. For example, the actual 2013 prison population increased for the first time since 2009, despite the rate decrease. While both rates decreased nationally, 40 percent of states did not experience the simultaneous change in 2008-2013. The Post gave the president One Pinocchio for missing context.

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