NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Violent Crime Rates Tumbled in 1995

April 14, 1997

The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that violent crime in the United States plummeted 12.4 percent in 1995 -- the biggest drop since the agency began surveying victims in 1973. The FBI had earlier reported a 4 percent drop in 1995.

The figures differ because the FBI counts only reported crimes, while the BJS figures are compiled from interviews with 100,000 people age 12 or older who are asked about crimes they experienced, whether reported to authorities or not. According to the BJS:

  • The number of rapes, robberies, assaults, thefts and household burglaries dropped from 42.3 million in 1994 to 38.4 million in 1995.
  • Crimes against suburbanites fell 15.1 percent, and against whites, 12.8 percent.
  • The decline of crimes against blacks was 10.4 percent -- with the rate for aggravated assaults against this group falling 24 percent.
  • Crime rates against Hispanics showed no significant change.

Violent crime rates in cities were down 10.7 percent, and in rural areas 11 percent. Since these figures are based on interviews, murders are not included since victims cannot, obviously, be interviewed.

Experts attributed the drop to a number of factors: the aging of the baby-boom generation and its effect on the teenage population, tougher sentencing laws that have put more offenders behind bars and more effective law-enforcement techniques.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Violent Crime Down 12.4 Percent" and "Cause of Crime Drop Difficult to Pinpoint," USA Today, April 14, 1997.

 

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