Crime report shows crime fell in 2009 as prison growth rates decreased;
Drop in crime comes as states seek ways to reduce prison populations and improve savings for state budgets
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Reported violent crime in the United States fell by 5.5 percent and property crime by 4.9 percent in 2009, according to an analysis released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI). The analysis, which was based on the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, released earlier today, also found that this drop in crime coincided with decreasing use of prisons from previous years. This corresponds with a national trend of states seeking ways to curtail corrections spending in light of the economic downturn. JPI applauded the news, saying it highlights that states can save money, promote alternatives to incarceration and still maintain public safety.
“Increased incarceration does not increase public safety,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. “The FBI’s report shows that we can improve public safety and put fewer people in prisons, which means savings for taxpayers in addition to stronger communities. Investments in jobs, education and treatment are areas where states should focus their dollars, as all of these will help reduce crime more effectively and fairly than building more prisons.”
According to the analysis, the 2009 drop in crime came at a time when the prison growth rates fell from previous years. While the number of people in prison is still growing, it is at a slower rate than the last few decades.”Contrary to the conventional wisdom that locking people up makes communities safer, the data is clearly showing that crime is going down as fewer people are being put in prison,” Velázquez added. “Rather than spending more money unnecessarily on policing and incarceration, we recommend that states increase their investments in people and communities, rather than prisons, as a better way of ensuring that public safety continues to improve.”
The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to reducing society’s use of incarceration and promoting just and effective social policies.
For a more in-depth analysis of crime trends, and information on effective public safety practices, please visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org.