The incidence of crime nationwide decreased again, according to our just released Crime in the United States report. Overall, the estimated volume of violent crimes in 2010 dropped 6 percent compared to the 2009 figure, the fourth consecutive year it has declined. For the eighth consecutive year, the volume of property crimes went down as well—2.7 percent.This is apparently part of a much longer trend:
The report was compiled from data submitted to us by more than 18,000 city, county, university and college, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies from around the nation. It contains information on the number of reported murders and non-negligent manslaughters, forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larceny-thefts, motor vehicle thefts, and arsons.
Violent crime offenses were down across the board—the largest decrease was robbery, down 10.0 percent. Property crime offenses went down as well—the largest decline, 7.4 percent, was for motor vehicle thefts.
In The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes, the celebrated evolutionary psychologist and bestselling author argues that we – the human race – are becoming progressively less violent. ...But this Salon article says that not everyone is happy about it:
Pinker shows that, with notable exceptions, the long-term trend for murder and violence has been going down since humans first developed agriculture 10,000 years ago. And it has dropped steeply since the Middle Ages. It may come as a surprise to fans of Inspector Morse but Oxford in the 1300s, Pinker tells us, was 110 times more murderous than it is today. With a nod to the German sociologist Norbert Elias, Pinker calls this movement away from killing the "civilising process".
The collapse of American justiceSo is crime down because all the criminals are locked up? It seems plausible, but the
Not long ago, we had a low incarceration rate and a system that worked. Then everything started to unravel
Among the great untold stories of our time is this one: the last half of the twentieth century saw America's criminal justice system unravel. Signs of the unraveling are everywhere. The nation's record- shattering prison population has grown out of control. Still more so the African American portion of that prison population: for black males, a term in the nearest penitentiary has become an ordinary life experience, a horrifying truth that wasn't true a mere generation ago. Ordinary life experiences are poor deterrents, one reason why massive levels of criminal punishment coexist with historically high levels of urban violence.
experts say no:
Criminologist Gary LaFree confirms the fundamental importance of feelings and beliefs when he points out that of all the variables on which social scientists have collected data in the past fifty years, homicide rates among unrelated adults in the United States have correlated perfectly with only two: the proportion of adults who say they trust their government to do the right thing and the proportion who believe that most public officials are honest. When those proportions fell, as they did in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the homicide rate among unrelated adults increased. When those proportions rose, as they did in the 1950s and mid-1990s, the homicide rate fell.