One of the most pronounced social phenomena of the previous 25 years in the United States of America is the decrease of crime. For a couple of decades since the 1970s, crime prospered. It was almost impossible to live in cities. The governmental workers tried to invent new laws to help improve the situation. In the 1990s, crime rates strongly declined in the US and this affected all the forms of crime and all the stratums of the nation.
The crime rates have obviously declined since the 1990's in the state of California as well as in the majority of the cities with large population. For example, there were almost one and a half thousands of murders in New York City in 1985, while the last year report showed the number of 333. For over twenty-five years, the rate of crime and violence in California greatly declined. Since the time of the efflorescence in 1991, the crime level decreased heavily. Violent crime rate decreased by 51 percent, property crimes are down by 43 percent, and the rate of homicides lowered by 54 percent. The country became an undeniably safer place. The urban populations are growing, and the country became much safer than it used to be. This statistics is affirmatively optimistic, and even enjoyable. Over the previous decades, the United States became the world’s widest incarcerator, having more than a million people jailed since 1990 (Chettiar). This period is often called mass incarceration. Nowadays, the US accounts for five percent of the population on our planet and also twenty-five percent of the world’s jailed population.
The generation of Americans who survived the sixties and seventies still remember the panic they associate with the factual waves of violent crime: the first took place between 1960 and 1970 when this rate reached the grade of 126 percent and the second happened during the following ten years accounting for 64 percent. People who had power in their hands were ringing the alarm in case of any threat that might be one of the reasons why people still feared crime so much. Mass media played an essential role in this regard and frightened people too. It depicted pictures of violence all the time and people believed that danger surrounds them in any step they take. Politicians gained respect by promising to eliminate crime in the country, even without considering the fact that the level of violence got lower year by year.
The perception gap is strong even nowadays. One of the major reasons for such situation is a feeling that the things that are not getting better day by day. Only two years passed after the Sept. 11, 2011, when people of America felt nearly safe and the whole world pitied them greatly. Because of this pitying the nation felt positive and optimistic (Beam).
Recently, the Brennan Center researched fourteen theories as for why crime sharply lowered in the country since the early 1990s. Decreased alcohol and drug consumption, aging population, and income changes were the most significant factors in the crime drop according to their analysis. But not many Americans are even noticing that the real changes for the better occurred during the previous twenty years (Chettiar). Although starting from 1991, crime rates greatly lowered, people are still afraid.
One of the reasons of not noticing the changes for the better is the age of a person as claimed by Christopher Beam in his work. He says that it is important who the person is. Typically, people of older age are more alarmed of crime than the youth, even not considering the fact that the rate of attacking the old people is on the lowest level in comparison to the rate of attacking the youth (Beam). The ladies are more preoccupied about crime than men and fear of rape much, but according to Lewis, the statistical risk is not significant at all. Personal experience appears to be one of the leading factors of the fear. Even if the crime rate drops by half, a person will be more preoccupied with the chance of being attacked if his or her acquaintance gets assaulted. It may seem that Americans would feel free of crimes and happily enjoy their lives right after hearing that the crime rate dropped. But the reality shows that these presumptions are false.
Currently, sixty-three percent of the Americans are sure that crime rates increased during the previous year. Eisen and Roeder state that most of American people say that the rate of crime increases year after year, despite intense drop in the nation’s solid crime rate. The truth again is dissimilar. In November 2014, the FBI presented crime statistics showing that the potential number of violent criminalities in 2013 reduced by 4.4 percent compared to 2012 statistics, and the expected number of property crimes lowered by 4.1 percent (Eisen and Roeder). Serious crime has been slowing down almost every year from 1994 up to 2013 according to the government data. The exceptions are only some minor problems. Opposing to the fact that crime rates have dropped since the 1990s the majority of Americans questioned this belief considering that crime is on the rise, as shown by more than ten years of Gallup researches. The total rate of intense crime is meaningfully lower than during the recent historical epochs. Despite reducing homicide rates and decreasing attention (at least in some sources of mass media), the community still believes that the crime rates are high. These facts show that the majority of the people are still frightened, and the community still has not recuperated from the years of the crime flood. Possibly, the inaccessible crimes added to the public confusion regarding the fact that the crime rates are increasing, and raised more shocking attention.
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A number of state policies were put in place in the ‘90s to address crime. They began with the presidential election in 1992 when Bill Clinton overwhelmed the Republican president George H.W. Bush. Clinton appropriated office with democratic masses in both houses and struggled to pass a motivated health care reform bill. The government increased taxes at the same time forming the first central budget spares since 1969, for the financial years in the end of the nineties, achieving a lessening of the communal obligation (the unrefined national debt continuously increased). The main unrestricted trade treaty with Canada and Mexico received the president’s support. It was entitled the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton contracted the treaty into a law soon after its introduction. His years of ruling showed that he believed there was an evident way of prosperity improvement in the Acts concerning personal responsibility and work opportunities. He also invented a law which was of a real help to the families with children who were in great need. Moreover, some prosperity programs also appeared. Both political parties approved the act. The financial institutions required prevention of decline and the president could not ignore it and signed the reversal of the Glass-Steagall Act. This act was soon designed and prevented the institutions from declining. A number of measures were taken and most of them were helpful, deserving respect and admiration (“The Clinton Presidency: Lowest Crime Rates in a Generation”). The nineties were dark and the country felt an unparalleled reduction in crime rates, but at the same time many specialists were forecasting the increase of crime rates. Both large urban cities and small villages expected the decrease of criminality. Nevertheless even starting from 2010 and till nowadays people are still frightened and sometimes even more than ever.
Many programs were aimed at researching the real reasons and causes of the drop of the crime levels. The scientists and politicians all over the world are still arguing and searching for convincing details to prove their viewpoint in this regard, but there are some general reasons of the reductions in the crime rate. The first is the increased prison population. Higher degrees of imprisonment lead to the reduction of criminality for two reasons. First, keeping a greater number of criminals in jail saves them from committing new law-breaking acts. Second, high imprisonment rates are supposed to serve as a warning, discouraging others from breaking the law in future. In California, the explosion in the jail population was explained by such reasons as the increase in the quantity of individuals subjected to imprisonment by the courts, upper degrees of conditional release violators refunding to jail, and the usage of verdict enhancements. The second policy is aimed at increasing the number of police officers. Researches have also revealed that a nationwide growth of the number of police officers has been a reason of the decrease of crime rates. There has been little convincing investigation, however, directed towards investigating whether definite types of police approaches, such as, for example, community policing, have been effective tactics in decreasing criminality. The third policy is related to demographic factors. The potential crime age when individuals are at a greater risk of breaking the law is eighteen to twenty-four years. Deviations in the country’s criminality rate follow deviations in the age at which people are more likely to get involved in criminal activity. In California, the portion of the inhabitants between 18 to 24 years of age has been increasing throughout the 1970s till reaching its top in 1978, when 18 to 24 year-olds represented 14 percent of the population. This category of people reduced steadily until 1997, when the cut had fallen to ten percent. This arrangement trails the points of the state’s law-breaking degrees; California reached its top law-breaking level in 1980, and attained its lowest law-breaking rate in 2000, characterized by rises and falls in this segment of the populace. During the next decade, people of this approximate age accounted for nearly 10 percent of the populace. The fourth policy is related to the changes in the economy, namely an economic factor. Variations in unemployment, poverty, and cruel family salary also have a strong impact on crime rates. In the U.S., the economic explosion of the late 1990s probably played a part in the lessening of law-breaking cases. (California’s Criminal Justice System: A Primer). Although economic reasons were believed to be a dominant factor influencing the changes in crime rates, the researches demonstrate that such reasons as the increased number of police officers and prison population influenced the criminality rates more than the other reasons.
The costs and consequences of these policies have been of great value. The tendency of crime rate decrease is evident. For the period of almost two decades, the rate of violent crimes has reached the lowest level. During the last year of the nineties, the homicide level dropped to its bottom point for the first time since the late sixties. Ever since the early nineties the rate of thirty-eight percent of the murders has been achieved. A stable decrease may be noticed in the rate of the gun-related law-breaking acts. It decreased to more than forty percent. The level of thirty-eight percent of crime was reached in terms of the school crime activity. The violence in families dropped too. Over the same period of time, the number of women suffering from domestic violence dropped to twenty-one percent. The alcohol and drug abuse rates have been steadily decreasing year by year after the improvement activities were initiated. Over twenty-five percent of young generation of the country avoids using marijuana. The facts regarding the highest levels of state drug seizures show that the number of federal drug captures has increased ever since 1993, including the large state cocaine removals. The fields of coca greenery annihilation in Bolivia and Peru as well as in the Columbian region brought an enormous number of teenagers back to normal life. And since the year 1992, the rate of open cocaine consumption in the country has fallen by no less than thirty percent. The murders related to drug consumption decreased more than two times since the beginning of the darkest times of the nineties. And nowadays the country reached the level when people may see the lowest rate of the murder related criminality ever since 1990s.
To conclude, the people of the United States of America suffered from an enormously high rate of violence and crime during the 1990s and even now when the criminality rate is twice lower than in those days, people try to avoid any potentially dangerous place or event. But in general there has been a great progress for America's families and communities in the struggle against crime. The researches of the experts related to the criminal activity have proven that well-designed recovery programs can decrease recidivism if applied to the right prisoners. Such programs can value community security by decreasing immoral actions and the jail populace as well as improving overfilling circumstances. Although lots of people in the US still do not believe in the greatly decreasing rate of criminality, fear of crime is not totally ruthless from a risk-management perspective. Those who are afraid of being attacked are less likely to leave the safe places, which reduces the possibility of the attack. They might also just sidestep the street bends that make them most anxious. No matter by what means the criminality degree decreases, these views could still lessen personal danger. The difficulty is that lessening the crime does not make it disappear. It just bounces the threat onto somebody else. Anxiety might be of some use as a personal approach; however, it does not work as a social one.