Nationwide, violent crime fell for the first time since 2005. Property crime declined for the fifth straight year. And each of the seven specific offense categories—from aggravated assault to murder—was down from 2006.DOJ created this graphic analyzing this year's overall crime trends:
It should be mentioned that national crime data are fairly flawed. Not all information gets reported. And year to year fluctuations may not mean much or necessarily depict a long-term trend. Still, less crime reported on its face must be be considered good news.
Though crime rates are declining overall, it's not necessarily because police are solving more crimes. Clearance rates remained low: "Nationwide in 2007, law enforcement cleared 44.5 percent of violent crimes and 16.5 percent of property crimes by arrest or exceptional means." The highest clearance rate was for murder, at 61.2% nationwide. Here's a graphic depicting clearance rates for various crimes:
I was also interested to learn that the vast majority of arrests are not for violent or property crimes: "In 2007, the FBI estimated that 14,209,365 arrests occurred nationwide for all offenses (except traffic violations), of which 597,447 were for violent crimes, and 1,610,088 were for property crimes. That means just 15.54% of arrests were for violent crimes or property offenses, a figure which seems surprisingly low to me.
Some of that can be explained by the drug war: "Law enforcement made more arrests for drug abuse violations (an estimated 1.8 million arrests, or 13.0 percent of the total number of arrests) than for any other offense." What's more, 42.1% of drug arrests were for pot possession.
Murder in large cities was predictably higher than the suburbs - towns with more than 100,000 people had a murder rate of 4.7 per 100,000, compared with 2.9 per 100,000 in towns with 25,000 to 99,999 people. But murder rates in the smallest towns were higher still, the FBI reports, with towns under 25,000 having a murder rate of 5.5 per 100,000. That also seems like a surprising outcome. Overall, 87% of murder victims knew their killer.
Texans reported 1,172 murders in 2007 and 6,853 forcible rapes, 79,103 auto thefts, and 181,502 home burglaries. See this table for city by city index crime details.
There's a lot more information and fodder for commentary in this annual report for those interested.
MORE: TalkLeft looks at the numbers and informs us that " contrary to the notion often expressed by crime warriors that there is less crime because more offenders are locked up, this Justice Policy Institute factsheet (pdf) shows the opposite: Areas with lower incarceration rates experienced greater crime reductions."