Crime in the United States, 2008

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Federal Bureau of Investigation


The FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report shows slight declines in violent and property crimes from 2007 to 2008 and a decelerating prison and jail population growth rate over the same period, data that according to the Justice Policy Institute's accompanying analysis adds credence to the movement for incarceration alternatives.

The number of violent crimes reported to U.S. law enforcement officials dropped by 1.8 percent in 2008 - to an estimated 454.5 violent crimes per 100,000 individuals - a number that remains 1.6 percent higher than in 2004. Property crimes dipped by 0.8 percent from 2007 to 2008. Prison and jail populations, while still on the rise from 2007 to 2008, grew at rates of 1.0 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, from 2007 to 2008, compared with growth rates of 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent from 2006 to 2007.

The Justice Policy Institute, a think tank with an anti-incarceration agenda, compiled a brief analysis of the FBI report, which included the suggestion that the drop in crime accompanying a slowing incarceration growth "possibly [indicates] that decreasing the number of people incarcerated can be part of an effective public safety strategy."

Tracy Velazquez, the Justice Policy Institute's executive director, elaborated on the group's analysis in a press release, saying "This week's report shows that we can preserve public safety while expanding the use of community supervision and improving the systems that help people be successful, including treatment, housing and job services."


For the Uniform Crime Report:

For the Justice Police Institute analysis: Free, 1 page. (202) 558-7974, ext. 300,