With high unemployment and police departments hit by budget cuts you’d expect more crime, right?
But the FBI released statistics Monday that showed the opposite in 2010: Violent crime across the U.S. dropped 6 percent, marking the fourth straight annual decline. Property crime was down for the eighth straight year, falling 2.7 percent.
Within violent crime, robbery fell 10 percent, rape 5 percent, and murder, non-negligent manslaughter and aggravated assault more than 4 percent.
Each type of property crime also decreased. The largest, a 7.4 percent drop, was for motor vehicle thefts. Burglaries fell 2 percent and larceny-thefts 2.4 percent.
“Everyone is wondering about that,” Alfred Blumstein a criminal justice professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, says of the continued decline in crime. “Many expected the Great Recession to drive crime rates up — especially property crime rates — but so there are no good, hard explanations at hand.”
There is “lots of speculations,” Blumstein adds, “and we all have some, but nothing is demonstrated or proven.”
Is the reason more criminals behind bars for longer periods? Not likely. “Incarceration rates have been flat and in some states have dropped in recent years, so it’s unlikely that’s driving the crime downturn,” says Richard Rosenfeld, a past president of the American Society of Criminology and a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
So what can explain the continued decline? Several experts weighed in with these possible factors:
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