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Lecture 2 Crime Measurement and Patterns

Lecture 2 Crime Measurement and Patterns - 15:07:00 Crime...

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Crime Measurement and Patterns 21/02/2009 15:07:00 Crime Measurement and Patterns What is the definition of crime? An act committed or omitted in violation of a law Prohibited by law or statute (common law practice) Possible penalties for an adult include incarceration or a fine Juvenile can be adjudged delinquent or transferred to criminal court for prosecution There is a specific government sponsored punishment prescribed for the act Violations of law By commission – something the person actually does Or omission – something that the person fails to do (i.e. not paying taxes) Measurement Crime rate – incarcerations, trials, convictions – but not everybody is incarcerated or convicted Crimes discovered – criminal charges, arrests – but the police miss a lot Crimes reported to the police – most accurate? The farther away we get from the initial commission of the crime, the more inaccurate the crime measure becomes, so the best measure of crime is crimes known to the police o Committed – discovered – reported – arrests – criminal charges – trial – conviction – incarceration o Crimes discovered is a problem because not everybody reports crime (family, scared of repercussions…) Criminal justice funnel (see slide) o 1000 serious crimes 20 adults incarcerated o Only half reported to the police, and most of those reported remain unsolved
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o More serious offenses have a higher likelihood of being reported and solved Uniform Crime Reports – Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Dept. of Justice - most common method of measurement First major effort by the federal gov’t to uniformly count US crime Reports crimes known to the police Summary system – only reports counts of crimes – detailed info not provided Collected voluntarily by law enforcement agencies (if mandated they would have to provide funding, at inception in 1920s federal government was small) Now approx 98% total compliance rate, 97% from Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 88% from rural areas Wanted to raise public awareness and fear, and get congress to give money UCR: Crime Index Part I Offenses Indexed Crimes – most serious o 1. Violent crime – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault o 2. Property crime – burglary (breaking and entering), larceny theft (simple stealing), motor vehicle theft, arson (which is collected but never included in the total count – difficult to determine) Non-Indexed Crimes – all others (except traffic) o Simple assault, fraud, prostitution, drunkenness, DUI… How UCR crime data are expressed
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