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5 Facts about Crime in the United States

Posted on by Ben Hartwig in CrimeOctober 22, 2018

1️⃣ Crime Follows Low Income and Low Employment

Detroit leads the country in cities with the most violent crime again, with Memphis, Oakland, Birmingham, and Atlanta close behind, says a report from Forbes magazine. The former Motor City once bustled with high-paying jobs in the auto industry but has descended into a chaotic state since those industries closed or left the state after a decline in demand. Detroit struggled with infrastructure and services when the city declared bankruptcy, and gangs began to take over hollowed-out neighborhoods. The city’s violent crime rate fell by 10 percent in recent years but is still five times the national average. Its poverty rate is at 35 percent, with median income below $30,000. Both Detroit and Memphis are the cities with the lowest per capital incomein the country.

2️⃣ Alcohol and Drug Use are Key Indicators of a Criminal Element

Half of all homicides involve alcohol: either the victim or perpetrator or both were drinking at the time of the crime, says the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Many less-violent crimes are committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol as well. For instance, DUI arrests are made over 1.1 million times per yearin the country and account for 10,000 vehicular deaths each year. Between 50 and 60 percent of prison inmates are deemed drug dependent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, raising the possibility that they either committed crimes to support drug habits or were under the influence of drugs when they committed crimes. Their addiction rate is in stark contrast to the 5 percent drug addiction rate of the general population (at the time of the study).

3️⃣ The US Crime Rate Has Been Dropping For Decades

The country’s crime rate is tracked by the F.B.I. and Bureau of Justice Statistics, which show that about 10 million arrests are made each year – but many are for minor drug possession crimes, and those are becoming legal in many states. According to a report that analyzed these statistics over a 20-year period, both violent crime and property crime have fallen by more than 50 percent since the mid-1990s. Despite this dramatic improvement, public perception of crime persists, with nearly 50 percent of people polled responding that crime had increased in their area in the past year. The nightly news is misleading people to believe that crime is rampant and growing when in fact even the violence in Chicago is skewed by the headlines: the city’s crime rate is actually lower than that of many smaller cities like St. Louis Missouri, which has the 13th highest murder rate in the world at 65.8 per 100,000.

4️⃣ Property Crimes Outpace Violent Crime By 10 to 1

Face-to-face, violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and the like are significantly outpaced by property crimes. For every murder that grabs the headlines there are 80 times as many burglaries. The violent crime rate is (on average) 386 per 100,000 population while the property crime rate is 2,450 per 100,000. The murder rate peaked in the early 1990s around 28 per 100,000, and it is now at an average of 5 per 100,000. Similarly, property crimes peaked 25 years ago and are now nearly the same as in the mid-1960s, with about 2,450 per 100,000 population.

5️⃣ Most Crimes Remain Unsolved

Unlike in television dramas, crimes are rarely solved by police. In addition, a study concluded that few crimes (only about 35 percent of all crimes) are ever reported. Using a standard called “clearance rate” the study investigated responses by 90,000 households and determined that fewer than 50 percent of crimes are thoroughly investigated, a suspect arrested, a prosecution mounted, and a penalty paid by the  convicted individual. Data provided by the FBI confirms this conclusion, showing that violent crimes like murders, assaults, and rapes are cleared in less than 50 percent of cases, but property crimes like burglaries and larcenies are cleared in less than 20 percent of cases. Clearance rates have not changed despite the significant drop in crime in recent decades.


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