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Rhetoric is Wrong: Violent Crime is Actually Down

December 11th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Chicago crime rate, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Day after day we hear the rhetoric about how bad crime is today and about how much worse crime is now than it used to be. Stories pop up about Chicago being the murder capital of America. Citizens are left to believe that there is some mass criminal class that is much worse than it has ever been before. The problem with all of this is that it simply is not true. In fact, violent crimes rates are the lowest they have been since the 1970s.

Violent Crime is Down

The Chicago Tribune reports that violent crime in the United States fell 4.4 percent in 2013, bringing the violent crime rate to its lowest level since the 1970s. Fewer violent crimes were reported last year than have been reported in any year since 1978. This trend rings true for all types of violent crimes including but not limited to murder, rape, and robbery. The violent crime rate has fallen every year since 1994 and has fallen by roughly 50 percent since 1994. Property crimes were also down last year.

Decreased Prison Populations Lead to Even Greater Violent Crime Rate Decline

Some tough-on-crime law and order types point to our nation’s extraordinary levels of incarceration as the cause of this decrease in crime. However, the evidence indicates that violent crime is dropping in spite of, not because of, our over-imprisonment problem. The Pew Charitable Trusts compiled data over the last five years regarding states’ imprisonment rates and crime rates. They found that over the last five years the majority of states have decreased imprisonment rates while seeing a decrease in crime at the same time. Hawaii decreased its imprisonment rate by 23 percent and saw a whopping 14 percent decrease in crime. In the 33 states where imprisonment rates decreased, crime fell on average by 13 percent. While crime also fell in the states where imprisonment rates increased, crime only fell 11 percent in those states.

This Means We Need Solutions Other than Prison

This data demonstrates that we need to use tools other than imprisonment if we want to minimize crime. Rather than focusing solely on punishment, it is high time our justice system focused on rehabilitation. Drug treatment, mental health treatment, and education need to become our primary tools of corrections, rather than oft ignored side programs. For those criminal defendants who do wind up serving sentences in jail or prison, we need to focus substantial efforts into supporting reentry programs. Reintegrating into society with a felony conviction can be extremely difficult and our society needs to work to make it possible for people to make it in society after incarceration. People who serve long sentences for violent crimes especially need assistance reintegrating into a world that has changed dramatically during their incarceration.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Being accused of committing a violent crime is terrifying. These crimes carry stiff penalties, but even just being accused can have a profound and permanent effect on your life. If you or someone you know has been accused of committing a violent crime, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We can schedule a consultation where we can discuss your situation and see what we can do to help you.

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