Violent crime ends 20-year decline

Violent crime has spiked upward for the first time in nearly two decades, according to a report released yesterday by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. “The report shows the rate of violent crime among teen and adult victims grew 17 percent in 2011 from the previous year, a finding that stopped the historic decline since 1993. The timing couldn’t be worse for supporters of California Ballot Initiative 34, which would abolish the death penalty in the state. Analysts say that statistical crime increases often trigger reactionary “moral panics” resulting in measures such as California’s infamous “Three Strikes” law, also the subject of a ballot initiative to lessen its punitive severity this year.
According to the recently released federal numbers, between 2010 and 2011, the rate of violent victimization increased 17 percent, from 19.3 to 22.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. The increase in total violence was due to a 22 percent increase in the number of aggravated and simple assaults. There was no statistically significant change in the number of rapes or sexual assaults and robberies. While the percentage change in violent crime from 2010 to 2011 is relatively large, the actual difference between the rates for those years (3.3 victimizations per 1,000) is below the average annual change in violent crime (4.3 victimizations per 1,000) over the past two decades. The low rates make the percentage change large, but crime still remains at historically low levels. Since 1993, the rate of violent victimization declined 72 percent. The rate of total property crime increased 11 percent, from 125.4 to 138.7 victimizations per 1,000 households between 2010 and 2011. Household burglary increased 14 percent, from 25.8 to 29.4 victimizations per 1,000 households. In 2011, 49 percent of violent victimizations and 37 percent of property victimization were reported to police. From 2010 to 2011, there was no statistically significant change in the percentage of violent victimizations reported to the police. The percentage of property victimizations reported to the police declined from 39 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2011.”

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