Have you ever wondered how crime statistics are collected and where the data comes from? There are three major agencies the United States uses to collect crime data. They consist of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Justice, and the National Crime Victimization Survey.
Unfortunately there are many crimes that go unreported for several reasons. Whether it’s a fear of reporting the crime or a fear of the police, criminologists refer to this as “the dark figure of crime”. This phrase not only refers to the number of unreported crimes, but crimes when law enforcement doesn’t acknowledge a law has been broken.
Many criminologist and others contend there are discrepancies in the data collected. Crime statistics do not include unreported crimes and therefore the accuracy and extent of crimes committed can be questioned. Although it can be difficult to put an exact figure on crime and its effect on society regarding the various types of crimes committed the estimated statistics available today are, for the most part, reliable.
FBI Crime Statistics
In 1920 the International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized the need to develop a national crime statistics. After years of planning, studying and evaluating the recordkeeping practices of state criminal codes in 1929 the committee formed the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
The FBI has been the administrator of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program since 1930 and its data is the largest source used in the country today. The stats are used by sociologist, legislators, criminologist, the media, students studying criminal justice, and municipal planners for a variety of planning purposes and research.
There are more than 18,000 nationwide colleges, universities, cities, counties, tribal, state and federal law agencies who voluntarily report data on crimes they are aware of. They are continuously working to redevelop and update the program their main objective is to produce dependable information and encourage all agencies to participate in the program.
Crime Statistics by Race
The two major sources collecting crime statistics by race are the National Crime Victimizing Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which relies on individual honesty, and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.
Crime and race in this country has been a debate topic among the public and scholars for more than a century. In the 1980’s the debates began to focus on minorities and the criminal justice system. Crime statistics have shown that African-Americans and Hispanics have been charged with, convicted and incarcerated of crimes more than Whites or Asian Americans.
Between 2000 and 2010 the number of African-Americans detained decreased by 20,000 while white imprisonment increased by 26,000. Hispanic incarceration saw the most significant increase at 129,000. Yet these facts and statistics were barely mentioned in the media.
Could there be a bias among the general public, media, and legislators? Whites are still portrayed as the victims and African-Americans and Hispanics as criminals. And when looking at the 2013 Federal Bureau of Investigation stats for crimes committed by race whites are not far distances from crimes committed by minorities.
- Of all individuals that were arrested 68.9 percent were white, 28.3 percent were African-American and other races were 2.9 percent.
- 6 percent of all adults arrested were white, 27.6 percent were African-American, and 2.9 percent were other races.
- 4 percent of arrests for violent crimes were white individuals.
- 45.5 percent of white adults were arrested for murder and 52.1 percent were black.
Though Latinos and African-Americans make up only 30 percent of the population they account for 58 percent of the prison population. Could racial profiling of crimes and other factors lead to unequal punishments for minorities? What do you think?
Juvenile Crime Statistics
Juvenile delinquency is a continuous concern for parents and guardians in this country. Reports show there is an association between family structure and criminal acts committed by minors.
There are two types of juvenile crime offenses. The first offense is called a status offense. Truancy and running away fall under status offense. These are offenses that adults wouldn’t do. The second is a criminal law offense, a violation that an adult would commit. Ninety-five percent of juveniles will go to prison for criminal offenses.
Studies have shown that children who have not grown up with their biological father are three times as likely to commit a crime. Children of divorced parents are six times more apt to be delinquent than families with two parents. And these children are more prone to join a gang than their peers.
According to the Office of Juvenile and Justice Prevention , juvenile arrests for violent crimes have decreased 29 percent between 2006 and 2011. Despite the continuous decrease in juvenile crimes many communities continue to seek strategies and information to prevent youths from engaging in violence.
A strong, positive family and good role models are the best opportunity to prevent delinquency. Family involvement and parental support have shown to build confidence and reduce the risk of becoming involved in juvenile crimes and substance abuse.
Violent Crime Statistics
The Bureau of Justice defines violent crimes as an offense that involves force or a threat of force and consist of four offenses; aggravated assault, rape, robbery, non-negligent manslaughter and murder.
Violent crime offense figures have decreased from 1,325,000 in 2009 to an estimated 1,163,146 in 2013. A 4.4 percent decrease from the estimate in 2012. However, the data collected requires only the most serious crimes be counted. An overview of the violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2013 is as follows:
- 3 percent accounted for aggravated assaults.
- 7 percent accounted for robbery offenses
- 9 percent accounted for rape
- 1.2 percent accounted for murder
When considering the trends over the last 5 to 10 years the estimated violent crime total in 2013 was 12.3 percent lower than in 2009 and 14.5 lower than 2004. There was a 5.1 percent lower rate of violent crimes in 2013 than the 2012 estimated rate.
Hate Crime Statistics
Data collected regarding criminal offenses that were motivated by the offender’s bias against a religion, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability whether in whole or in part against a person’s property or society is a hate crime. Victims of a hate crime can be an individual, an institution, a business or society as a whole.
Since the release of its first data in 2003 the total number of victims, 293,800, hasn’t changed much over the years. But the targets have, the majority of crimes are committed against Hispanics. This is the first year hate crimes against ethnicity has surpassed race. In 2012 race base crimes accounted for 46 percent and 51 percent were based on ethnicity.
Though bias against sexual orientation has decreased from 19 percent to 13 percent from 2011 to 2012 due to advances made by the LGBT communities, violent hate crimes have risen 90 percent in 2012 from 78 percent in 2011. It has been reported that an estimated 60 percent of violent hate crimes went unreported in 2012.
One theory for the rise in ethnicity hate crimes points to a census that white people will become the minority by 2043. With the country’s demographics changing and the fear of losing the white majority anger continues to mount. Hence, an increase in anti-Latino and anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Black Crime Statistics
According to the United States Department of Justice in 2005 blacks were victims of approximately 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes and an estimated 8,000 homicides. During that time blacks accounted for 13 percent of the population, and disturbingly, 15 percent were victims of nonfatal crimes and half of all the homicides. Black victims of violent crimes showed-
- Black females were less vulnerable to violent crimes than black males
- Younger blacks were more likely to be victims of a violence than older blacks
- Blacks who were never married were the most susceptible to a violent crime
- Households with lower incomes were at a greater risk than households with higher incomes
- Blacks living in suburban or rural areas were less likely to be a victim of a crime than those living in urban areas
In 2000 there were approximately 580,000 male and female blacks incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons. By the year 2010 the number of black men and women imprisoned had decreased more than 20,000. As of 2013 crime statistics continue to show a decrease in black crimes.
Gun Crime Statistics
Crimes committed by guns are shocking. Guns not only damage lives but the economy as well, it is estimated the loss caused by guns is $3.7 billion a year. A staggering estimated number of deaths a year caused by guns is 30,000.
Gun crime statistics are often ignored by the public or viewed with skepticism. But did you know that 60 percent of murders are committed with a firearm in the United States. And we have the largest number of firearm deaths per 100,000 citizens than any other country.
More disturbing is the number of children who are involved in gun crimes. Children are now becoming the victims of the gun culture. An estimated 39 percent of children know where parents keep their guns. Its true statistics are not the most interesting thing in the world, but statistics relating to gun crimes cannot be pushed aside if you value the worthiness of life.
Crime Statistics by City
According to Wikipedia, when determining crime statistics according to city they are based on each jurisdiction or metropolitan area voluntarily submitting criminal offenses. The only statistics that all agencies are required to report are murder and non negligent manslaughter.
Statistics are based on the estimated year end population number in the city conducted by the United States Census. The rates are based on cases per 100,000 people per calendar year. United States cities with a population of 250,000 or more are listed on crime statistics by city.
It’s important to mention the Federal Bureau of Investigation site recommends against using the data as reliable source for ranking. Sighting the rankings lead to incomplete analysis and can create misleading perceptions that can negatively affect the cities, counties, and residents.