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Crunching Numbers: Crime and Incarceration at the End of the Millennium

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Dated: January 2000 Pages: 10-17
Date Published
January 2000
8 pages

This article examines some of the trends in property crime, rape, and violence among intimates.


Property crime has been declining in America for at least 25 years, by 58 percent since 1975. The incidence of rape and other acts of violence has also declined. The article discusses possible reasons for these declines. It also examines claims that these figures are illusory, representing not so much declining crime rates as differences in definitions of crimes or differences in accounting and/or reporting procedures. The article calls for further research on the statistics as well as research on the increase in incarceration rates in the U.S. since 1975. The incarceration rate has more than quadrupled--after holding more or less steady for decades--and has disproportionately affected minority racial and ethnic groups. The high level of incarceration fosters disrespect for legitimate authority among people who begin to feel that everyone they know is being put in prison. In addition, because felons typically are not able to vote, they are likely to have no interest or role in elections and thus may be alienated from the political process. The U.S. is disenfranchising a group of people who are currently minorities but, if current demographic trends continue, will become a majority of the population. Figures, notes, tables

Date Published: January 1, 2000