NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Crime Drops Again in 1997

May 18, 1998

Preliminary figures for 1997 from the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate serious crime fell across the nation for the sixth consecutive year.

  • The overall rate of serious crime fell 4 percent last year -- with a 5 percent decline in violent crimes and a 9 percent decrease in murders and robberies.
  • Aggravated assault was down 2 percent and rapes fell 1 percent.
  • Property crimes declined by 4 percent -- led by an 8 percent drop in arson -- and car thefts dropped 5 percent.
  • States in the northeast led the declines in virtually every category.

For some years, experts have been citing several trends to explain the improving numbers: the aging of the population, toughening of sentencing laws and the increasing number of criminals in prison. They are also now including as a factor the nation's healthy economy.

Source: John H. Cushman Jr., "Serious Crime in U.S. Fell in 1997 for a 6th Year," New York Times, May 18, 1998.


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