The hardest thing for a society to grapple with is individuality. At its core, it’s the engine which drives society forward. We are all intricate parts of the machine that serve a purpose– regardless of size and shape. However, individuality creates more than just cohesion. Individuality also causes deviance. Deviation occurs whenever anyone steps away from the norms and mores of society. This can be anything from spiking your hair to getting a neon green Ford Model-T. However, deviance can also be criminal. It can be the breaking of laws and statutes. All deviance is normative. Ergo, crime is a normal part of any functioning society. This includes the United States.
What is the crime rate in America? The answer is as difficult to define as any individual act on the spectrum of deviance. However, we do have a few ways to get a rough estimate.
Different Reports on Crime:
There are two primary ways we collect crime data as a nation. One of them is the FBI’s UCR or Uniform Criminal Report. This report is when the FBI interviews criminal justice agencies across the nation and collects the data from their reports. The other is the NCVS or the National Crime Victimization Survey. As the name suggests, this survey works by interviewing the victims of crime.
Both of these systems have certain flaws and benefits. The UCR for instance, has been under fire lately for promoting under-reporting of crime. I.e, officers choose not to arrest certain people for low-level crimes or that the agencies don’t send all of the pertinent data. There is substantial pressure to identify a decreasing crime rate from local agencies. That and the fact that crimes are identified differently throughout the nation both prove to be serious obstacles. The NCVS, however, has been criticized since its inception on asking people who aren’t familiar with law questions. For instance, someone may have reported that their car was stolen, when it really wasn’t. In the end, the UCR is still considered the best available survey.
Number of Property Crimes:
The UCR identifies certain crimes based upon their characteristics. The most prevalent crime in the United States is property crime. These are strictly non-violent offenses unless some other circumstance aggravates the situation. In 2011 (the year with the most recently available data), there were just over 9 million instances of property crime. One instance of criminal activity for roughly every thirty people. The most common property crime, and by extension the most common crime in the US, was larceny. Larceny took up nearly two-thirds of all non-violent crime.
Number of Violent Crimes:
Violent crimes are in a whole other class. These include rape, assault, robbery, and murder. In 2011, there were over 1.2 million instances of violent crime in the nation. The most common offense was assault, which was nearly 63% of violent offenses. Fortunately for the criminal justice system, murders were the lowest reported violent crimes. Less than 1.5% of violent offenses could be classified as murder. The combined crime count between the two sections top it off at roughly 10.5 million.