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Fear of crime increases despite falling statistics

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Many people in Minnesota have a great fear of crime, something that has led to public support for harsh policies in the criminal justice system. Many of these policies have since inspired opposition, especially for how they disproportionately affect people of color and those living in poverty. However, the fear of criminal behavior itself, while somewhat logical, is not always supported by the facts about crime in the U.S. today. While people are often more aware of violent crimes due to nationwide, instant news coverage and global social media, violent crime has actually dropped dramatically in the past 25 years.

After a high point in the crime rate in the early 1990s, violent crime has dropped substantially. FBI statistics show a 51% decrease in violent incidents since 1993, and statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show an even greater drop of 73%. There were some upticks between 2004 and 2006 and 2014 and 2016, but they were largely offset by the overall declining trend. While violent crime has dropped significantly, even property crimes like car theft and burglary have dropped by 54% according to FBI statistics. Property crimes in general are far more common than violent crimes like armed robbery, rape or murder.

Despite the statistics, however, surveys repeatedly show that Americans believe that crime is increasing nationwide. Interestingly, people are much less likely to believe that crime is up in their local areas while they are concerned about national trends. This could point to the role of widespread media coverage in sparking panic about crime.

False beliefs about the likelihood of crime may also be connected to harsh sentencing and penalties for people convicted of criminal offenses. People facing charges may want to contact a criminal defense attorney to challenge police allegations and work to avoid a conviction.