NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Crackdown On Crime Pays Off

August 25, 1999

Crime rates fell again in 1998, marking the seventh straight year of decline. Criminologists say it is no coincidence this welcome trend coincides with courts initiating get-tough policies toward criminals.

While other factors -- such as the booming economy and greater job opportunities -- may have contributed to less dangerous streets, the message that crime means time is sinking in with potential lawbreakers.

  • Crime rates were lower in 1998 than in any year since the Justice Department began keeping records 26 years ago.
  • Stern justice means that more criminals are behind bars -- with 1.82 million behind bars as of Dec. 31, 1998.
  • Those incarcerated are staying in prisons and jails longer -- an average of 27 months in 1997 versus 22 months in 1990.
  • By 1997, release rates had dropped to 31 percent -- compared to 37 percent in 1990.

"The lawbreakers of the 1990s cannot expect the comparatively gentle treatment the courts would have meted out a few years ago," the National Center for Policy Analysis points out. Today, seeing that the law means business, many potential criminals decide to keep out of the law's way. In other words, they decide not to rape, steal, rob or kill."

Source: Editorial, "Tough Justice Rewarded," Investor's Business Daily, August 25, 1999.


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