Monday, May 23, 2011

Crime in Texas down despite declining incarceration, increased unemployment

Though Texas' incarceration rate has decline steadily over the past few years, the 2010 Texas Uniform Crime Report shows crime declined substantially from 2009 to 2010, calling into question quite a few assumptions about incarceration and crime.

According to the new "Crime in Texas Annual Report 2010" (pdf) from the Department of Public Safety, "this is the first time since 2000 that all seven index crime rates declined during the same year. Murder was down 7.4%, rape 9.2%, robbery 14.9%, aggravated assault 4.9%, burglary 5.9%, larceny/theft 4.9% and motor vehicle theft 12.3%." Overall, violent crime declined 8.3% and property crimes were down 5.7%.

Not only does it strike me as notable that these crime rates declined at the same time that Texas' incarceration rate has been declining (the prison population has remained steady the past few years while the overall population has grown tremendously), but property crime rates declined substantially despite the recession, calling into question the link between theft and unemployment/poverty. Even family violence incidents went down 1.6%, though with the economy on the fritz and the population growing you might expect the opposite result.

The number of arrests of adult Texans declined 4.6% last year while arrests of juveniles declined a whopping 9.3%.  The decline in arrests for adults is especially significant in my view because adult arrests continued to increase over the last several years despite declining crime rates.

Among Texas cities with more than 100,000 residents, crime rates declined in all but three: Round Rock, which experienced an 8% crime spike (because that Williamson County "tuff on crime" approach works so well), Irving Killeen with a 9.1% boost, and Frisco, which saw a massive 28.8% increase. Of the six largest cities, all saw declines:
Houston: -5.9%
Dallas: -10.2%
San Antonio: -2.7%
Fort Worth: -1.9%
Austin: -4.7%
El Paso: -5.1%
Two Texas law enforcement officers were killed feloniously in the line of duty during 2010, while 13 officers were killed in duty-related accidents - also a decline from last year. Reported assaults on police officers declined 6% last year.

This news comes at a time when new diversion programs and higher parole rates at the Department of Criminal Justice have reduced incarceration rates substantially, creating a disconnect with those who argue that more incarceration reduces crime. And the decline in property crimes and domestic violence during what some have called the "Great Recession" runs counter to "common sense" assumptions that those rates will go up when more people become unemployed and desperate.

See the full report here (pdf).


MaxM said...

That was Killeen rather than Irving that went up 9.1. They had a rough year.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

My bad, thanks for the correction; changed it in the post.

Anonymous said...

After reading the article and pulling the TDPS crime rate report I am now wondering why there is a need for a sex offender registration laws instead of requiring the more violent criminals having to register. If the SOR laws are working then why not have all criminals be forced to register, have special dr lic, be restricted where they can live, work, visit, congregate, ect. Compare the total number of sexual assaults to the aggravated assaults then it becomes apparent that our attention should be on those who attack others and not just sexual assaults. Do you want to go to an ASTROS game and have the same attack happen like at the SF Giants/LA Dodgers.

sunray's wench said...

9.39 ~ it's not the SO Registry that disuades sex offenders from reoffending, it's the circumstances of the original crime which are less likely to be repeated, as opposed to something like a burglary, where the circumstances are repeated over and over. Same with murder.

If you have to register someone, register those who continually comit burglaries and robberies.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Hi there Boys and Girls,

Im thinkin it wont be too awful long before we are registered at birth and required to scan in every time we become employed and / or cross a State line or enter a govt bldg.

So all this posturing on whats right and whats not will be for naught. I really do believe there will be a national tracking system introduced in the next few years following some horrible event we will be required from that point on to subscribe..........

Anonymous said...

If you'll notice- the LEOs are making a big deal about MORE of their people being killed..even though it's in traffic accidents and such, not as a result of criminal activity. (in Tyler, one of the heroes tragically "lost" was shot by his wife.) The lower crime rate is folks carrying guns legally and the police cooking the books.

Anonymous said...

A major factor is the "Graying" of the baby boomers to the point of their growing out of the age where the majority of the violent crimes are committed.

Unknown said...

This is a chicken and egg type comment. Is crime down because incarceration is low or is incarceration low because crime is down? When crime rates were rising we were told we should reduce incarceration because high incarceration wasn't working. As crime rates fell we were told this showed high incarceration wasn't needed.

Just like public health is more than a matter of high or low hospitalization, public safety is more than a matter of high or low incarceration. Let's start asking the right questions for once.

Texas Maverick said...

Just read in USA Today's national roundup section for IL, a bill is on the Gov's desk to register murderers when they are released from prison.

Just think about the DNA listings that are being collected. A social security card at birth connected to a dna sample. Now ain't that a pretty picture.

Anonymous said...

The cost of living in Frisco is very high and if you ride over there at night it never looked like it was in a recession. I wonder why or how the such high increase rate. Any thoughts on it?

Anonymous said...

I believe the rate did rise for LEO in fatal accident involving vehicles. But I know there was several who were charged and convicted of intoxicated manslaughter also. I think that is LEO killing an incident person also. Theses reports are so one sided and bias.

D.A. Confidential said...

Please not the drop in Austin's crime rate coincides with me getting an office with a window at the DA's Office. This has made me more productive, happier, and resulted in both a deterrence effect on bad guys and a desire for those with wayward tendencies to turn their lives around.
Now, imagine what a pay raise would do?!

organic_veggie said...

San Antonio along with New York were the only cities with a population over a million that had an overall increase in the number of violent crimes.

Anonymous said...

All in all it has to be the OBAMA effect. Crime down everywhere but white bred conservative bastions like Frisco and Killeen!