The Defense Never Rests

Evidence points to skewed public views re violent crime

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2017 | Criminal Law, Sex Crimes

Crime is up, right?

That is, unimpeachable evidence will clearly show that major categories of crime, from violent offenses (e.g., murder, robbery and sex crimes) to theft-related activities such as larceny, burglary and embezzlement are consistently on the rise, correct?

Uh, make that an “incorrect,” and put it in uppercase.

Here’s the truth, states the national think tank Pew Research Center: Criminal activity in the above-cited and other areas has actually trended downward over the long term, and in a most substantial way.

And that spells paradox when it comes to reality versus what a large swath of the public in Indiana and the rest of the country believes is the case.

When Pew researchers state their claim, they come to the party with far more than unsupported assertions. Indeed, the data they produce and invite the public to closely consider owes its origins to double-barrel evidence gleaned from FBI research and a huge study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Together, that evidence indicates this: Rather than it being the case that violent crime has spiked nationally over the past generation, the rate has actually plummeted starkly downward. FBI-derived data cite a 50% fall from 1993 to 2015. And those numbers are overshadowed by BJS statistics, which point to a whopping 77% decrease.

And similarly, note Pew scholars, “property crime has declined significantly over the long term,” as well.

Clearly, there is a strong and even puzzling chasm between perceived and actual truth regarding the national crime rate.

Its origins are not wholly surprising, by any means. Politicians and law enforcers have long played up crime levels and concerns for obvious reasons.

A predictable result of that has been a kind of public furor and uncertainty that has fanned the flames for ever-stringent policies and sentencing imperatives.

Reform attempts are now being seen across the country to counter some of the predictable excesses that have resulted from purposefully disseminated information that has often overstated crime concerns.

Yes, there is crime, and, yes, it is a valid concern.

The “problem,” though, must be couched in reality. The release of evidence such as that cited above is, we believe, important and necessary for the objectivity it inserts into public dialogue regarding the criminal justice system and for the salutary effect it might reasonably have in promoting true justice in criminal outcomes across the United States.