Continuing Drop in Reported Crime–How Low Can the Total Go?


The FBI compilation saying that violent crime reports fell last year in the U.S. by 5.5 percent raised the question of how far crime could continue to drop in a poor economy, says the New York Times. “Remarkable,” said Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. “Given the fact that we have had some healthy declines in recent years, I fully expected that the improvement would slow. There is only so much air you can squeeze out of a balloon.”

The gains were uneven. New York had 536 murders last year — 65 more than in 2009, which was the lowest since 1963. The number of rapes in the New York City jumped 24.5 percent; robberies, 5.4 percent, and aggravated assaults, 3.2 percent. New York was the only city with more than a million people besides San Antonio with an increase in the total number of reported violent crimes — a 4.6 percent jump, to 48,489 — and the only one besides Philadelphia to see a rise in murders. Franklin Zimring of the University of California, Berkeley noted that as the number of people incarcerated has leveled off, for those who believed that higher incarceration rates inevitably led to less crime, “this would also be the last time to expect a crime decline.”

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