Crime Rate Falls To Record-Low Level
September 9, 2002
Washington - The
number of people who were victims of all crimes except murder fell by 9
percent in 2001, sending the crime rate to its lowest level since it was
first tracked in 1973, the government reported yesterday.
The decline was due
primarily to a record low number of reported assaults, the most common
form of violent crime.
The drop is detailed
in the 2001 National Crime Victimization Survey, which is based on
interviews with victims and thus does not include murder. It is to be
released this week.
from another FBI report - gleaned from more than 17,000 city, county and
state law enforcement agencies and released in June - reflected an
increase in murders of 3.1 percent in 2001. There was no state-by-state
the new report on violent crime said the decrease, part of a decade-long
trend, is the result primarily of the strong economy in the 1990's and
the prevalence of tougher sentencing laws.
Since 1993, violent
crime has decreased by almost 50 percent.
The new report says
that between 2000 and 2001, the number of people who reported they were
victims of violent crime fell from about 28 per 1,000 to about 25 per
1,000, an almost 11 percent drop. The number of people reporting violent
crimes fell from 6,323,000 in 2000 to 5,744,000 in 2001.
The report showed a
10 percent decrease in the violent crime rate for whites. It also
included a 11.6 percent decrease for blacks and a 3.9 percent increase
Assault was down 10
percent, but victim reports reflected a 13 percent increase in injuries.
The effect of tougher
sentencing laws can best be seen in the drop in the rate at which people
in the United States are assaulted, said Bruce Fenmore, a criminal
statistician at the Institute for Crime and Punishment, a Chicago-based
overwhelming evidence that people who commit assaults do it as a general
course of their affairs," Fenmore said. "Putting those people behind
bars drops the rate."
Victims of rape and
assault were the least likely (7 percent) to face an armed offender,
while robbery victims were the most likely (55 percent).
Rape fell 8 percent,
and sexual assaults - which include verbal threats and fondling - fell
20 percent. About half the women who reported rapes said the perpetrator
was a friend or acquaintance. The rate at which women reported rape to
the police fell 19 percent in 2001.
The overall property
crime rate fell 6 percent between 2000 and 2001 because of a 6.3 percent
decrease in theft and a 9.7 percent decrease in household burglaries.
The car theft rate
was up 7 percent, reflecting a jump from 937,000 car thefts in 2000 to
1,009,000 in 2001.
Teenagers seemed less
likely to be victims of violent crime. The crime rate against those
between ages 16 and 19 fell 13.2 percent.
Crime also fell in
each of the regions of the United States but showed the most dramatic
decline, 19.7 percent, in the Midwest.
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