Friday, July 16, 2010

Lower Crime Rates: “It Not Complicate—Prosecute and Incarcerate”

The overall crime rate in North Carolina dropped 8.8 percent in 2009, while violent crime was down 12.5 percent compared with 2008. The decline is the sharpest single-year drop in crime rates since North Carolina began statewide crime reporting in 1973, according to The News and Observer.

Statewide, murders fell 19.1 percent, while robberies were down 17.6 percent and aggravated assaults dropped 10.7 percent. All categories of property crime also fell, led by motor vehicle thefts, which were down 25.8 percent.

According to The News and Observer, North Carolina's drop in overall crime mirrors a national trend, said Jeff Welty, an assistant professor of public law and government with the School of Government at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In May the FBI reported a 5 percent reduction nationally in violent and property crimes between 2008 and 2009, Welty said.

Welty said the reasons for the drop in crime are a subject of intense dispute. He said some observers say it's as simple as an aging U.S. population. "Most crimes are committed by younger people," he told The News and Observer.

Welty said others, like North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, credit newer and more efficient policing strategies and longer prison sentences for violent offenders, who cannot commit crimes because they are already locked up.

George Holding, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina told The News & Observer, "It's not complicated," he said. "Prosecute and incarcerate."

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