Crime Trends

Crime Trends

Learning Objective 3: Distinguish between the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and self-reported surveys.

Learning Objective 4: Discuss the prevailing explanation for the rising number of women being incarcerated in the United States.

i. The UCR, NCVS, and other statistical measures represent only the tip of the iceberg of crime data

ii. Since the 1990s, the violent crime rate decreased by 70%

iii. Property crime dropped by 40%

iv. Reasons

a. End of the crack cocaine epidemic

b. Aging population

c. Improvements in law enforcement

d. Gentrification of many former high-crime neighborhoods

A. Leveling Off: Crime in the 2010s

i. UCR suggests plateau of crime rates

ii. NCVS suggests increase in violent crime by 15% and in property crime by 12%

iii. Reasons for the difference may be that many crimes are not reported to the police and thus are not reflected in the UCR

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss possible reasons of the stagnation or even decrease in crime in the past few years. How should policy makers respond to decrease the crime rate?

B. Crime, Race, and Poverty

i. Race and Crime

a. Official crime data indicate a strong relationship between minority status and crime

b. Black men are 12x more likely to be sent to prison for a drug-related conviction

c. Black women are 5x more likely to be sent to prison for a drug-related conviction

d. Racial differences in crime statistics are one of the most controversial areas of the criminal justice system

e. Regardless of race, a person has much higher risk of violent behavior if he or she lives in a poverty-stricken, disorganized neighborhood or in a household run by single parent

ii. Class and Crime

a. Lack of education, as a handicap faced by low-income citizens, seems to correlate with criminal activity

b. High crime rates in low-income communities are at least partly the result of a greater willingness of police to arrest poor citizens and of the court system to convict them.

Class Discussion/Activity

Ask students to discuss why lower class individuals are overrepresented among offenders and victims. Then, ask them to discuss the relationship between race and class. Why does the prison population look so different from the general population?

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