This recession has been extremely low on good news, so it's worth noting that crime has been on the decrease since the recession began in 2007. With a 5.3 percent decline in 2009, violent crime was down for the third consecutive year, according to a new FBI report. This drop was accompanied by a 4.6 percent decline in property crime, which marks the seventh straight decline in nonviolent crime. Of particular note is a significant drop in the murder rate, as well as the number of robberies:
This seems counterintuitive, since we tend to associate economic downturns with higher crime rates, but the truth is that there isn't a clear connection between crime and the economy, particularly as it relates to violent crime. In contrast to the high-crime (and prosperous) 1920s, the Great Depression saw significant declines in violent and property crime (the unemployed are poor targets for theft). Violent crime soared during the 1970s and early 1990s, but in both cases, drug violence was the culprit -- heroin in the 1970s and crack-cocaine in the 1990s.
Absent an external "shock" to the system -- like a new drug epidemic -- there was never any reason to think that crime would increase during the recession. That said, violent crime in the United States is still very high -- at least when compared to other developed nations -- and millions of Americans continue to suffer from the reality and threat of violence.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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