Violent Crime Fell in 2007

Areas with lower incarceration rates experienced greater crime reductions

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Violent crime in the United States fell by 1.4 percent in 2007, according to an analysis released today by the Justice Policy Institute. The analysis, which is based on findings in the 2007 FBI Uniform Crime Report released today, finds that the drop in crime came at a time when the prison and jail growth rates fell from previous years.  The analysis concluded that regions with the lowest incarceration rates also experienced the largest drops in violent crime.

The number of violent and property crimes fell in three of the four regions of the country.  The northeast region experienced the greatest drop in violent crime, and also has the lowest incarceration rates in the country.  The southern region has the highest incarceration rates and witnessed a rise in violent crimes–the only part of the country to not experience a drop in crime. Furthermore, as the growth rates of prisons and jails fell, the violent crime rate fell as well, possibly indicating that lowering the number of people imprisoned can be an effective way to increase public safety.

“The data clearly demonstrates that the use of incarceration as a means of increasing public safety is a failed public policy,” said Sheila Bedi, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute.  “This data underscores that investments in education, employment and housing are what make communities safer.”

The Uniform Crime Report also reinforces statistics around youth crime and suggests that punitive practices aimed at youth should be abandoned for more effective alternatives. According the UCR, adults are responsible for the majority of violent offenses, representing 84 percent of all violent crime arrests.    

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