The Physics
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An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Number of Crimes in the US

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Kurion, Thomas. Datapedia of the United States: 1790–2000. Lanham, MD: Bernam, 1994: 155 - 156. [Table from the years 1957 to 1990] 1,422–14,476
"Crime: FBI Index Shows First Rise Since 1991" Facts On File News Digest, 21 November 2002. "The FBI OCtober 28th reported that US crime rates had risen by 2.1% from 2000 levels, the first such increase since 1991 … the FBI said that 4,160 crimes were committed per 100,000 people in 2001 … Experts and law enforcement analysts attempted to explain the rising crime rate by citing a faltering national economy,an increase in the teenage population and an increased flow of prison inmates back into the general population. 11,850
Rogers, C. B. Morton, Secretary & Pate, James L., Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs. Bicentennial Edition Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Part 1.Washington, DC: Bureau of the Consensus & US Department of Commerce, 1975: 413. [table for 1957 to 1970 summarized in graph below] 1,422–5,581
Evans, Donald L., Cooper, Kathleen B., Kincannon, Charles Louis. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2002, 122nd Edition. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics & Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau, 2002: 183. [table for 1990 to 2000 summarized in graph below] 14,476–11,606

Crimes has existed in every nation and in every age. Though the United States (US) can be characterized as a great and powerful nation, it too has been plagued with the ago-old problem of crime. Because many crimes that occur in the US go unreported, the US crime rate statistics are restricted to those incidents that are actually reported to law enforcement and thus can only be considered an estimate. The trends and fluctuations of the US crime rate over time are monitored using crime indexes.

The rates provided on the graph below entitled "Number of Crimes in the US per 100,000 Inhabitants" are incidents per 100,000 inhabitants. These rates serve as a reliable mechanism for comparing the number of crimes in the US over time because they compensate for differences in population size. According to these statistics, the number of crimes committed in the US escalated significantly from 1960 to 1971. The most drastic rise of crime occurred from 1970 through 1971. This increase during the 1960s and the early 1970s may be attributed to tensions roused by the civil rights movement, the rise of racial militant groups, the creation of criminal-friendly rules by the Warren Court, and the incorporation of Alaska and Hawaii into the crime rate census. The number of crimes in the US peaked in 1980. During the subsequent year of 1981, in which the escalating crime rate declined only marginally, a federally financed study revealed that there was a strong correlation between heroin use and the rising crime rate, concluding that the propensity of heroin addicts to commit misdemeanors was 84% higher when they were using heroin regularly. They thus surmised controlling drug addiction would produce a decline in the crime rate.

From 1991 to 2000, the number of crimes in the US sharply declined. In the beginning of the year 2001, the US crime rate decreased by nearly 50% since 1993, reaching all-time low since 1973. However, in the autumn of 2001, the FBI Index revealed that the crime rate had rebounded, rising 2.1% since the year 2000. Experts and law enforcement analysts attributed the rising crime rate to the unstable national economy after the World Trade Center bombing on September 11th, an increase in the teenage population, and an increase in the flow of prison inmates back into the general population.

Crimes are classified into two categories: "violent crimes" and "property crimes". Violent crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, and auto theft. As indicated in the following graph, entitled "Property Crime Rate in the US per 100,000 Inhabitants", the rate of property crimes has remained parallel to the total US crime rate. Alternatively, the rate of violent crimes has not followed this trend. Though the number of violent crimes rose during the 1960s and 1970s, the increase was not as profound as that of the property crime rate. The violent crime rate peaked in 1991, rather than in 1980. Property crimes were committed in greater numbers than violent crimes, as the peak of the property crime rate surpassed 5,000, while the violent crime rate remained under 800. From these contrasting trends, it can be deduced that property crimes have a greater influence over the total US crime rate than do violent crimes, as they follow a more similar trend to the total US crime rate and are committed in greater numbers.

Although national security has been tightening and focused on protecting the nation after the World Trade Center bombing, based on the statistics of the past 44 years, it can be predicted that the number of crimes committed in the US will continue to rise as long as the nation's economy continues to worsen and unemployment increases.

Mary Pennisi -- 2003