Crime

FBI Reports Violent Crime Ticks Up—Forcible Rape Rate Falls

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Crime Rate
Credit: Alexraths: Dreamstime

The FBI has released its preliminary crime rate numbers for 2012 and the agency reports that the violent crime rate has risen for the first time since 2006. Specifically, the violent crime rate rose overall by 1.2 percent in 2012. The murder rate increased by 1.5 percent; robbery was up 0.6 percent, and the aggravated assault worsened by 1.7 percent. On the other hand, the rape rates continued their falling trend from the 1990s, down by 0.3 percent in 2012.

The rate of property crimes fell by 0.8 percent, with burglary down 3.6 percent and arson lower by 1.2 percent. Auto thefts rose by 1.3 percent.

The steep fall in crime rates has been a puzzle to criminologists. As the New York Times observed:

In 2011, for instance, the nation's rate of violent crime rate fell by 3.8 percent after having dropped by 6 percent in 2010 and 5.5 percent in 2009, according to F.B.I. data.

The last year in which violent crime rose nationally was 2006, when the rate went up by 1.9 percent. Before that, from 1996 to 2005, violent crime had declined by 17.6 percent, according to the F.B.I. figures.

In fact, crime levels have been dropping so much for so long that criminologists had been left guessing the reasons — and where it might end.

"We probably now have answered the question of how low it can go, and we may be bouncing off the bottom now," said Dennis Jay Kenney, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

But Dr. Kenney added a note of caution, saying that seeking to pin a reason for a single year's increase in serious crime was inadvisable. "We probably need another year to tell if we've got a pattern here," he said.

Joseph Pollini, another John Jay College professor, said that one possibility was that there were fewer police officers on patrol in some metropolitan areas that have cut spending sharply in recent years because of the recession.

"You're dealing with depleted police resources," he said of budget cuts that have caused a reduction in the size of nearly every urban police department.

Maybe. However, I can't help thinking how much lower the crime rate would be if the government called off the Drug War.

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  1. The steep fall in crime rates has been a puzzle to criminologists.

    Just a guess…ageing population?

    1. Bingo! Apparently, all of the “criminologists” haven’t read Thomas Sowell. He points to a decrease in the percentage of young men as the cause of lower crime rates, since men between the ages of 17 and 28 commit something like 75% of all violent crime. Having been a young man, my personal experience fits with this theory.

  2. Maybe. However, I can’t help thinking how much lower the crime rate would be if the government called off the Drug War.

    The drug war should be called off for a lot of reasons. But you shouldn’t kid yourself. The violent young men who are currently killing each other over drugs, would find new reasons to kill each other even if we ended the drug war.

    1. There’s really a great question in there. It does seem like the increased degree of violence in gang conflicts and the like tracks pretty closely to the severity of the drug war. That may be a false correlation, but it’s been noted before. After all, driving the price of drugs up insanely creates an incentive to dispense with your competitors for the less morally inclined.

      1. Young men tend to be violent. Maybe it would help. But it wouldn’t eliminate it. I think sometimes the benefits in that regard are oversold a bit.

        And most people who get caught up in the drug war get caught up over not just drugs but other crimes as well. Basically we have too many laws and drugs are just a part of the overall problem. There is a segment of society that just have a hard time seeing consequences to actions. These sorts of people used to float along the outskirts of society generally harming themselves but not much else. Then about 70 years ago we started passing laws and regulating everything and creating this huge punitive prison system. And those people got swept up and ended up in and out of our prisons. Getting rid of the drug laws would help, but these people will still be getting into trouble in other ways even if we end the drug war.

        1. The black market creates an environment where the government is not available as an avenue to settle disputes. So they settle them themselves with violence. It’s not like gangsters are shooting each other over Seagram’s anymore.

          1. True. But they still shoot each other, just over something else.

            1. Over what? Drug prohibition creates an opportunity to make tons of money. Potentially thousands of dollars a day. That’s why they’re shooting each other. Without prohibition they’d be broke with nothing to fight about.

              1. No. The reason why people who are willing to and like shooting each other deal drugs is because drugs are illegal and those are the only people willing to get in the business. Make drugs legal and less dangerous people will sell drugs and no one will shoot someone over a drug deal. But the dangerous people who used to sell drugs will still be out there. And they will still be shooting each other over turf or extortion or whatever. It is not like otherwise peaceful people become dangerous because of illegal drug markets. It is that the existence of illegal drug markets attracts the attention of people who were dangerous to begin with.

                1. But the dangerous people who used to sell drugs will still be out there. And they will still be shooting each other over turf or extortion or whatever.

                  Without illegal drugs they would be broke. They’d be back on the fringes of society again instead of shooting each other in the street.

                  1. Since when does being broke prevent you from shooting someone? And people on the fringes have always been violent. And they always will be. All ending the drug war would do was move the drug trade from the violent fringes into the nonviolent mainstream, which would be a good thing. But the fringes will still be there.

                    They difference would be they would no longer have the money to corrupt cops and the judicial system the way they do now. But they would be just as violent.

                2. But at the margin, SOME otherwise peaceful people would become dangerous because of the illegality of the drug market, because the drug market is so huge. If it was just turf or loan sharking, there would be a lot fewer dangerous people.

                  I reject the idea that there are a lot of people who are just born criminals, and simply find something illegal to do.
                  There are some people who do become evil, for whatever reason. Serial killers come to mind. But in a repressive dictatorial society, for instance, they’d become the KGB.

            2. Let’s hear it for unfalsifiable assertions!

              1. It is totally falsifiable. Get rid of all of the extra laws and see what happens. Get rid of the drug laws and see how much the prison population goes down. My prediction is that it will go down less than you think because we still have so many other laws for these people to run afoul of.

                So lets hear it for using a term improperly.

                1. My prediction is that it will go down less than you think because we still have so many other laws for these people to run afoul of.

                  I seriously doubt it. It’s about money. Plain and simple. There’s a lot of money in illegal drugs. More than any other criminal activity. Take that money out of the equation, and many of these people would be forced to live like normal people.

                  1. Take that money out of the equation, and many of these people would be forced to live like normal people.

                    Have you met many drug dealers? You don’t go into drug dealing because you have a lot of other options. Sure, some of the people on the sides would stop being criminals. But the violent ones who are in gangs? They will still be criminals even after the end of the drug war. You really think some rebel motorcycle gang is going straight after they can no longer sell meth?

                    1. Have you met many drug dealers?

                      Yes. As a matter of fact I have. Most of them do it for one and only one reason: easy money.

                      You really think some rebel motorcycle gang is going straight after they can no longer sell meth?

                      They may not go straight, but they will be a lot poorer. Better a poor thug than a thug with wads of cash.

                    2. They may not go straight, but they will be a lot poorer. Better a poor thug than a thug with wads of cash.

                      Yes and that is a good thing. But they will still be criminals and will still be dangerous and out doing bad things.

                    3. But they will still be criminals and will still be dangerous and out doing bad things.

                      Without the stacks of cash that can be made selling drugs, what incentive is there to live that lifestyle? You talk of criminals as if they are a subspecies or something. Believe it or not, they’re just people. People who respond to incentives.

            3. These kids are walking around with guns because they’re also carrying drugs and cash. Because their activity is outside the law, they cannot rely on police protection. So they must protect themselves. Without the drugs and cash, there’s no need for the gun.

              1. Without the drugs and cash, there’s no need for the gun.

                And the kids who choose to carry a gun and sell drugs now would just become law abiding citizens if drugs were legal? Doubtful. More likely, they would still carry a gun and would just find a new way to be criminals. Drugs because they are illegal, attract criminals to the market. But prohibition doesn’t necessarily create criminals. For example, Al Capone didn’t go into the legitimate booze business when Prohibition ended. He was only in the booze business because the law prevented the legitimate people from doing it. So when Prohibition ended, he moved onto other criminal enterprises. Just like the Mexican drug gangs would if the drug war ended.

                1. Name off the other criminal enterprises where people can make the kind of money that they can make off prohibition.

                  Name just one.

                  1. Law enforcement?

                    1. Or should I have said government?

                  2. So they would be poor criminals? They would still be criminals. You act like people become criminals and kill each other only because of money. But criminals don’t think like that. And most drug dealers don’t make that much money anyway. The average low guy in the Mexican Mafia is dirt poor just like the average wise guy in the 20s was poor. The type of person who is down in Mexico cutting people’s heads off is not going straight just because he can no longer sell drugs.

                    1. The type of person who is down in Mexico cutting people’s heads off is not going straight just because he can no longer sell drugs.

                      Just like the gang warfare of the Prohibition didn’t change one little bit after alcohol was made legal again.

                      Derp!

                    2. Just like the gang warfare of the Prohibition didn’t change one little bit after alcohol was made legal again.

                      It didn’t. Did the mafia die? The five families were still in New York. The Chicago outfit was still there. The gang warfare continues. They just found new things to fight about.

                    3. You’re comparing kids slinging dope to Mafia style organized crime?

                      That’s just dumb.

                    4. Sarcasmic,

                      The kids selling dope are not the ones killing each other. The crime is coming from the organized crime. And that is not going away.

                    5. If drugs were made legal, then the Mexican mafia would lose most of their income. That’s why they’re killing people. For money. Drug money. Take that incentive away and the majority of the violence will end.

                    6. The kids selling dope are not the ones killing each other.

                      On the Mexican border, no. But on the streets of Chicago? Yes.

                  3. Theft. It’s pure profit.

                2. And the kids who choose to carry a gun and sell drugs now would just become law abiding citizens if drugs were legal?

                  Many if not most would never become thugs in the first place because the incentive, the cash and the lifestyle that comes with it, would no longer exist.

                  Incentives matter.

              2. No matter if its heroin, cocaine or hash
                You’ve got to carry weapons,
                Cause you always carry cash.
                There’s lots of shady characters,
                Lots of dirty deals.
                Ev’ry name’s an alias,
                In case somebody squeals.
                Its the lure of easy money,
                Its gotta very strong appeal

        2. I get the impression that gang violence used to be less lethal, with more stabbings and beatings than shootings. Maybe other things have changed, too, but the incentive to use greater violence does seem tied to the financial opportunities created by the drug war.

        3. I’m sympathetic to the notion that drug laws channel and probably exacerbate violent tendencies, but I think Baily is making a point in response to the argument immediately preceding his that drug prohibition saps resources which would otherwise be devoted to preventing violent crimes.

      2. After all, driving the price of drugs up insanely

        The price of drugs has not gone up. That’s the thing. In real dollars, most drugs are cheaper now than they were twenty or thirty years ago.

        What is insane is the markup. I don’t have the exact numbers, but it is insane. When the cops pat themselves on the back for taking millions of dollars worth of drugs off the streets, they in fact only cost the cartels a few thousand. Seriously.

        1. Yeah, not only does weed, for instance, cost less than it used to 20 years ago, it’s generally stronger and therefore what you have lasts longer because you don’t have to pass the party bowl around six times; one or two hits will do. So its “price per high” is vastly cheaper than it used to be.

          I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to drive down the street in Seattle with some weed in my pocket with no worries, though, or to go out on my deck and smoke it without a care in the world. This needs to happen everywhere.

          1. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to drive down the street in Seattle with some weed in my pocket with no worries, though, or to go out on my deck and smoke it without a care in the world. This needs to happen everywhere.

            Though from my experiences smoking where the fear of being jailed was removed (Vancouver and Amsterdam) I would agree, I will say that most pot smokers already live in a world where they can smoke on their deck without a care in the world. For most, illegality simply isn’t an issue anymore.

        2. The price is far higher than it would be in a non-black market economy, unless the government ran the business. Then it’s lower.

          In any event, the margins are quite high.

          1. I remember reading somewhere that actual production costs for marijuana are somewhere around $30 lb. I’m sure transportation adds more than that to the cost, but the markup is insane.

    2. J: We do have some crime data from an earlier period of Prohibition and it shows that violent crime rose steadily until Prohibition was repealed when it began to decline. I suspect that the same thing would happen with the ending of the Drug War.

      1. Don’t confuse John with facts.

        1. Nonetheless the mafia didn’t go away, There’s loansharking, illegal gambling, prostitution, extortion, arson scams car theft and other ways for criminals to make their money. As lucrative as prohibition? No. Will the murder rate go down as a result? Probalby. The open question is how much.

          Is feud style warfare between street gangs going away tomorrow if you end prohibition? No, there is too much cultural baggage that’s causing it. The Hatfields and Mccoys didn’t need prohibition to fuel their feud.

          1. There’s loansharking, illegal gambling, prostitution, extortion, arson scams car theft and other ways for criminals to make their money.

            That’s a little sophisticated for the average kid slinging dope.

            The open question is how much.

            Among young blacks it would be dramatic.

            1. Remember Poot from The Wire finally selling athletic shoes?

          2. And if we legalized gambling and prostitution?

            Extortion generally requires someone with something to hide, usually dealing with prostitution, gambling, or drugs which would no longer be issues since they are all now legal and we now have all these extra police resources to track down arsonists, car theives, and con men.

  3. I think it’s pretty obvious the Bush economy is finally starting to force up the crime rate.

  4. Crime is down? It’s because there aren’t enough police! More funding!

    Crime is up? It’s because there aren’t enough police! More funding!

    1. Economy is bad? It’s because there wasn’t enough Keynesian stimulas….

  5. “You’re dealing with depleted police resources,” he said of budget cuts that have caused a reduction in the size of nearly every urban police department.

    Oh, noes, WAR ON COPZ!

    Fuck you, asshole.

    1. Is that why every single time the cops get called out there are suddenly 20 of them at the scene? They sure seem to have plenty of people who are waiting for something to do.

      1. Yeah. Every DUI requires at least three cop cars. Arresting some housewife who had one too many chardonnays at hen night out requires at least six cops. But they are totally overwhelmed and need a larger force.

        1. Oh yeah? Well that housewife could be wielding a knife! She could expertly attack and kill a fine officer from a distance of twenty feet! There should be at least a half dozen armed men to subdue her! What about officer safety?

          1. Right! You’ve never seen Wives with Knives? Educate yourselves!

      2. Come on, Episiarch, we all know where they are. On our roads, making revenue for us. I mean the government. Who is us. Because the president told me so. So I’m richer thanks to cops giving me speeding tickets.

        1. You have to spend be fined money to make money, ProL. Not that you’d understand that.

          1. And I have to be imprisoned to be free. It’s all so clear, now that I’ve had a lobotomy.

  6. On the other hand, the rape rates continued their falling trend from the 1990s, down by 0.3 percent in 2012.

    Warty’s getting lazy.

    1. Or he moved to Sweden.

      1. Sweden’s rape statistics have more to do with them calling any sexual activity that doesn’t have a written contract rape.

        1. Which is probably a precursor to the same thing happening in the US.

        2. just ask Julian Assange.

    2. Wasn’t Steve Smith arrested?

  7. On the other hand, the rape rates continued their falling trend from the 1990s, down by 0.3 percent in 2012.

    But I have been assured that rape is at an all-time high and that we’re in the midst of a WAR ON WIMMENZ!!!!!11!

    1. Wasn’t that crisis averted when Rapey Romney lost the election?

  8. Sort of on topic:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..82970.html

    At least she wasn’t back here being exposed to our oversexualized culture!

    1. Hitch-hiking? Seriously? Ugh, stupid, stupid.

      1. The 30-year-old woman was picked up early Tuesday morning by men in a truck as she was hitchhiking back to her guest house after visiting a friend, police officer Sher Singh said.

        I am sorry, but if you are a woman alone and get into a truck with a bunch of men you don’t know, you are recklessly stupid.

  9. FBI Reports Violent Crime Ticks Up – Forcible Rape Rate Falls

    Huh?

    1. I think that is excluding statutory rape and possibly date/drugged rape. I haven’t looked into the sources, but that seems to me the most likely explanation.

      Of course, it doesn’t say if it includes rape-rapes.

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