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The Great American Crime Decline$
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Franklin E. Zimring

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181159

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181159.001.0001

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The Size and Character of the Crime Decline

The Size and Character of the Crime Decline

(p.3) 1 The Size and Character of the Crime Decline
The Great American Crime Decline

Franklin E. Zimring

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a statistical profile of how crime dropped in the 1990s. The aim is to describe the character of the crime decline, and this is done by presenting statistics that illustrate the size, the range of offenses, and the length of the decline and how those features set what happened between 1991 and 2000 apart from other eras in modern American history. What the chapter examines is not simply the numbers but how the peculiar facts of the 1990s can help us understand the nature of the crime decline. The chapter begins with a series of statistical accounts of the 1990s, showing the patterns revealed by each of the vital statistics in the survey. A second section steps back from the individual statistical analysis to suggest three broader lessons to be drawn from the collective impact of several different analyses. The data show a very substantial and nationwide drop, across all categories of serious crimes, steadily progressing through the decade. It is also a decline that came as a total surprise to all the professional observers of crime and criminal justice in the United States.

Keywords:   crime rates, United States, crime statistics, crime decline

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