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NCJ Number: 200216 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Why Crime Rates Fell
Journal: Crime & Justice International  Volume:19  Issue:72  Dated:April 2003  Pages:17-20
Author(s): John E. Conklin
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores many competing perspectives of why the Nation’s crime rates fell during the 1990s.
Abstract: The author presents several views about why crime rates fell during the 1990s, including perspectives from the New York Times, criminologists, academics, and law enforcement officers. Falling crime rates in the 1990s led many people to believe that crime was finally declining, and the decline seemed to be both substantial and stable. However, criminologists and other researchers noted that the falling crime rates could instead be a result of an unwillingness by citizens to report crimes to the police. Instead of an actual decrease in the amount of crime occurring, this argument speculated that people were becoming frustrated with police efforts and had thus stopped reporting crimes to their local agencies. Another theory about the declining rates is the argument that police departments sometimes deliberately manipulate data to either show a decline in crime in their jurisdiction or reflect a rise in crime. The motivation is to either gain more resources for the department by showing a rising crime rate or to show police competency by showing a declining crime rate. Yet another reason for declining crime rates is offered by law enforcement agencies. Their contention is that their crime prevention programs, such as community policing and more officers on the streets, have worked to reduce overall crime. Criminologists debate the efficacy of incarceration as a crime control method. Some argue that rates have declined because more criminals are incarcerated, thus unable to commit further crimes. Others argue that incarceration does not reduce the overall crime rate because in order to put one offender into an overcrowded jail system, one offender must be let out. Other arguments regarding influences on national crime rates concern the drug trade and law enforcement efforts to disrupt the distribution of drugs in America. Finally, researchers also debate whether citizen ownership of firearms discourages criminals from committing acts against potentially armed citizens.
Main Term(s): Crime Rate
Index Term(s): Community policing; Drug law enforcement; Law enforcement; Police community relations; Theory
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