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Top 15 WTF United States Crime Statistics

 

The issue of crime and punishment has been an ongoing theme in American politics for decades now, and arguably never more than today. There are more issues in this topic than one can shake a metaphorical stick at. Just a few of them include the cost of criminal justice and ways to diminish it. Also up there is the nasty idea of false convictions and how to combat such problems. Of course there is also the issue of rehabilitation versus punishment and whether or not prisons can be used to help criminals better their lives or should just be massive concrete hell-holes used to keep people away from mainstream society. This barely even scratches the surface.

The fact that every phone can now take video in conjunction with the advent of social media has turned nearly everyone into an amateur reporter whenever they want to be. Many people make good points, whether it be about the cost of criminal justice, flaws in the process, or even reporting the misdeeds or positive actions of law enforcement personnel.

Crime and punishment is a topic that is among the most divisive in the United States and has been for some time. Some people vilify cops, while others adore them. Many distrust the system as a whole, but others consider the flaws in that system to be so egregious that they counteract the positives of it. If you’re looking to dive head first into this terrible and controversial topic, you’ve come to the right place. Here are fifteen of the most shocking, puzzling and troubling facts about crime in the United States.

15. Violent Crime Rates Are Comparatively Low

If you watch the news on television, you may well be terrified, and rightfully so. No matter what news programming you’re watching, they all have to keep viewership, and the best way to do that is through sensationalism and terrifying their audience on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is, statistically speaking, the rates (per 100,000 citizens) for almost all violent crime and property crime are down, when considered in comparison to past decades. Both of these categories of crime rose steadily through the 1970’s and 1980’s, reaching their highest in the mid 1990’s and then steadily dropping. Murder, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault (violent crimes) along with theft and vehicular theft, have all been at their lowest levels in decades throughout the last five years.

Watching the news you’d often think that every community in the United States is under daily attack by drug dealers, maniacs and domestic terrorists.

14. Cost for Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is a divisive issue in the United States and throughout much of the western world. In terms of countries that no longer use the death penalty altogether versus those that still have such a punishment in some capacity, there are just a few more that have outlawed the practice. Most countries that still have this sentence are in Asia, the Middle East or Africa. In the United States, capital punishment laws are on a state-to-state basis. Various states have different methods, including hanging, lethal injection, firing squad, gas chamber and of course the chair.

The sentence may be rare, but opponents consider it an anathema that it is even an option, arguing that it is not a deterrent, and that the state should not have the power to take a person’s life.

While a bullet, series of drugs, jolt of electricity, rope or gas may seem cheap, the process that a prisoner goes through while on death row, including increased cost (an additional $100,000 in some states) of being on death row, along with more judicial motions, more difficulty and procedure in terms of prosecuting, and of course, numerous appeals, all of which are commonplace when someone is awaiting capital punishment. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the average execution in the United States costs about $3 million, while life in prison often costs far less, (estimates around a full million less) even in cases of first degree murder.

13. The United States’ Most Violent Cities

By now you’re either terrified or thoroughly entertained by the stories and stats dealing with brutality, crime and mayhem (you sick puppy), but you may be wondering where the most violent crimes are being committed. Well, these things change year to year, but there are generally some regular frontrunners that usually lead the pack in terms of violent offenses per 100,000 people; a far more accurate stat than just looking at the number of crimes committed.

Different sources take different criteria into consideration when determining which cities are the most dangerous, but there are a few that have been topping all the charts in the last few years, such as Birmingham, Oakland, Baltimore, Memphis, St. Louis and who can forget, good ol’ Detroit. Each of these cities has a violent crime rate of between 1,400 or 1,900 per 100,000 people on average over the last five years.

12. The Growing Global Threat

While most people worry about being beaten up while walking home at night, having their house broken into or being killed by a crazy ex, there is a relatively new form of crime that may become the biggest threat to both businesses and individuals. This is cyber-crime; a form of crime that attacks a person or business’ online data rather than a physical entity.

Here are some troubling statistics about cyber crime. The global cost of this form of crime is skyrocketing, and may well hit $2 trillion by 2019. Moreover, it is believed that there are still numerous breaches that go undetected, far beyond the 858 major breaches that occurred in 2016. Because of this new form of threat, cyber-insurance businesses are becoming more and more common to protect businesses and individuals from cyber-crime related losses.

11. The Total Cost of Corrections

Throughout 2015 and 2016, a confused old communist tried to get himself elected President. Many call him Bernie Sanders, but we prefer “comrade Bernie”. Most of what he and the other candidates claimed was partially false, misleading, or a full-on lie, but he did mention that the United States spends about $80 billion per year on locking people up. That’s about $250 per citizen if we estimate a population of 320 million people in the country. For a comparison, the Department of Education costs about ten billion less per year (but there is currently an entertaining debate about whether that should exist).

The costs for individual prisoners and prisons also varies based on whether certain offenders need to be kept separate from the rest of the prison population and other issues. Of course, the price per prisoner also depends on which state and municipality has the person locked up. New York and California have the largest costs (of course) in terms of state, and at the municipal level, several New York jails report costs of over $100,000 per year per person to keep people incarcerated.

Getting back to the issue; $80 billion per year is a pretty accurate figure and when considered as a “per taxpayer” number, seems far less massive. Many are asking however, what can be done to take that cost down, because while keeping some maniacs and violent offenders caged is a good idea, perhaps at least some of that money could be more effectively used elsewhere.

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