The most recent figures from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report are out and they show that the 20-year decline in rates of serious crime, both against people and property, continues. MSNBC reports:
Violent crime rates in the U.S. are reaching historic lows, according to new FBI data released Monday.
Instances of murder declined overall by 1.9 percent from 2010 figures, while rape, robbery and aggravated assault declined by 4 percent nationwide, according to records from more than 14,000 law-enforcement agencies around the country, FBI spokesman Bill Carter told msnbc.com.
The number of property crimes also registered a 0.8-percent drop, motor-vehicle thefts declined by 3.3 percent, and arson was down by 5 percent.
Although the findings, released in the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, represent a seemingly small decline in crime overall, they aren’t just a blip. Rather, criminologists say, the decline is part of larger downward trend and the result of a series of changes that have contributed to a more peaceful society.
“This is actually a pretty significant drop, which is fascinating because we’d normally expect crime to go up when we’re in an economic downturn,” Gary LaFree, a criminology professor at the University of Maryland, told msnbc.com, adding that the U.S. is experiencing the lowest crime levels since World War II.
According to FBI analysis, the homicide drop would mean that nearly 280 fewer Americans were murdered last year, which would be the lowest homicide death toll since the mid-1950s.
And yet fear of crime remains very high. I’m not the world’s biggest Michael Moore fan, but I thought his best work was done in Bowling for Columbine, where he looked at the steady decline of violent crime and the fact that it hasn’t done anything to reduce our fear being victimized. I think the fault lies with the influence of 24-hour cable news channels. We are bombarded with images of violent crime everywhere, which gives the perception that it’s going up when it’s actually going down. And that fear is easily exploited to keep us ever more afraid of one another and to make us acquiesce to the most draconian and unconstitutional policies in the name of protecting us.