Uniform Crime Reports

Crime is considered one of the major problems in the United States and countries throughout the world by law enforcement authorities, political leaders, and the public at large. To provide detailed public information on the incidence of crimes of various kinds in the United States, and to serve as a basis for action in legislative action and law enforcement, each year the Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes a new edition of Crime in the United States: Uniform Crime Reports. This publication provides statistical data on offenses reported, offenses cleared, persons arrested, weapons used

We joked a lot about prostitutes and sex deviates, but most of us would have been scared to death to meet up with one. We also laughed at people who had too much to drink, and we smoked and drank a bit ourselves. Mostly, however, it was cheap wine and rabbit tobacco, or even coffee rolled in brown paper. We never got drunk, but we had fun pretending to be so.

We boys had normal libidos and a great curiosity about sex, and we were very interested in the carnival girlie shows that came to town every year. We were also aware that uncontrolled passion can cause trouble and even lead to violence. There were reports of men beating their wives (rarely vice versa), but murders were more likely to occur once every 10 years rather than 10 times a year. We knew from Warner Bros. movies that big cities were full of juvenile delinquents and gangsters, but thank goodness they weren't in our town. About our only acquaintance with capital punishment was an old tree in our neighborhood on which a horse thief had reportedly been hanged some 50 years earlier. The story (and the gory details) of that execution became embellished over time, and after a while most of us steered pretty clear of that tree!

In all likelihood, those times were not as safe and law-abiding as they seem in retrospect. There may well have been Lizzie Bordens waiting to make their mark and John Dillingers preparing to blast their way out of the quiet homes on the streets of our town. But few of us had any fear of going out at night—alone or otherwise—and if we did, it was the product of our imaginations and the thrill of spookiness rather than the threat of anything real that might have harmed us. School-work, daily chores, and getting along with other people were difficult enough without making trouble for ourselves by worrying about or participating in criminal activities.

in violent crimes, and law enforcement personnel. Also designed to gauge fluctuations in the overall volume and rate of crime reported to law enforcement is a Crime Index. This index is composed of the violent crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft, and arson. In 1995, the Crime Index total, 13.9 million offenses, or approximately 5,278 per 100,000 inhabitants, was lower than it had been since 1987. Still, the crime clock indicates that in 1995, on the average there was one murder every 24 minutes, one forcible rape every 5 minutes, one robbery every 54 seconds, one aggravated assault every 29 seconds, one burglary every 12 seconds, one larceny-theft every 4 seconds, and one motor-vehicle theft every 21 seconds (U.S. Department of Justice, 1996).

In addition to the Uniform Crime Reports, data on the incidence of crime in the nation as a whole are provided by the National Criminal Victimization Survey, an annual publication of the Bureau of Justice Statistics based on interviews of a sample of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, neither of these sources provides a completely accurate picture of crime in the United States. The statistics in the Uniform Crime Reports are based an offenses reported to law enforcement authorities, which are undoubtedly underestimates for most crimes. The corresponding difficulty with the National Criminal Victimization Survey is that the findings are obtained only from a sample of the total population, and an unrepresentative one at that. However, by using both of these sources in combination, a fair approximation to the actual state of crime in the United States can be obtained.

Crime is a function of several demographic variables, including race/ ethnicity, sex (gender), chronological age, and socioeconomic status. The incidence of arrests for violent crimes, property crimes, and crimes as a whole varies with race/ethnicity, For example, the arrest rate for blacks is five times that for whites for violent crimes, four times that for whites for property crimes, and three times that of whites for all crimes in all age groups.

The number of arrests of both males and females increases up through the late teens and then gradually decreases into old age, but at all ages, the number of females arrested is substantially lower than of males (Figure 12-1). In 1995, young adults (ages 18-24), who comprised only 10% of the U.S. population, had an arrest rate of 26%. On the other hand, adults aged 55 and

Age (Years)

Figure 12-1 Number of arrests in thousands for all crimes in the United States in 1995. (Based on data from U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

Age (Years)

Figure 12-1 Number of arrests in thousands for all crimes in the United States in 1995. (Based on data from U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

over, who constituted nearly 21% of the U.S. population in 1995, had an arrest rate of only 2.3%. Regardless of the age group, the number of arrests is obviously not the same for all types of offenses. Alcohol-related offenses (driving under the influence, liquor law violations, and drunkenness) are more common among adults of all ages than other offenses. Property crime and drug abuse are second in frequency, followed by violent crime and disorderly conduct. The order of different offenses by frequency of arrests also varies with age. For example, individuals under age 18 are more likely than other age groups to be arrested for motor-vehicle theft, vandalism, and arson. But adults between the ages of 25 and 44 have a disproportionate number of arrests for fraud, prostitution, family violence, driving under the influence, and drunkenness. These crimes are reflective of the problems of earning a living and raising a family that are characteristic of the 25-44 year age group (U.S. Department of Justice, 1996; Mitchell, 1995).

Because the number of individuals in each age group varies with age, age-specific arrest rates for different crimes may be computed to determine how the incidence of specific crimes varies with age. Figure 12-2 is a plot of the age-specific arrest rates for violent and property crimes in 1995. The age-specific arrest rate for property crime is higher than that for violent crime in

3,500

2,500

1,500

3,500

2,500

1,500

0-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 Age Interval (Years)

55-64

Figure 12-2 Relative percentages of arrests for all crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes in the United States in 1995. (Based on data from U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

0-14 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 Age Interval (Years)

55-64

Figure 12-2 Relative percentages of arrests for all crimes, violent crimes, and property crimes in the United States in 1995. (Based on data from U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

all age groups. The arrest rates for both types of crime reach their highest levels in the 15-24 year age interval and decline to their lowest levels in the 65-and-over age group. Both rates decline markedly after early adulthood, but the decline is steeper for property crime than violent crime.

0 0

Post a comment