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Chapter One: Crime Trends in Pennsylvania PENNSYLVANIA'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Uniform Crime Report The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation primary tool for recording and reporting crime in the United States. implemented in 1929 The data are compiled by the FBI and a full report of the number of crimes is released to the public annually. Most states also provide full reports of UCR crimes that have occurred within that state on an annual basis. While these reports are helpful in identifying and analyzing crime trends, it should be noted that the UCR does not include data on all crimes. Divided into two sections Part I –Index crimes serious felonies murder and non-negligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson Part II counts lesser offenses including simple assault, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, vagrancy, loitering, white collar crimes (embezzlement and fraud), driving under the influence, drug offenses, fraud, gambling, liquor offenses, offenses against the family, prostitution, runaways, sex offenses, stolen property, vandalism, and weapons possession offenses. Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Uniform Crime Report Limitations of UCR 1. not all occurrences of crime are captured. the crime counts only reflect those crimes that have been reported to the police or that have been discovered by the police in some other way. There are many crimes that are never reported to or discovered by the police that go undocumented. 2. the overall counts are dependent on how crimes are defined in statute—as well as the procedures and arrest policies of each police department and law enforcement agency that reports data. example of this is the recent change to the UCR definition of forcible rape. 3. further judgment of the acts in the justice system (i.e., court decisions in the form of guilt or innocence) are not taken into account there may be cases included that ultimately are determined not to be crimes 4. allows for the reporting of only one crime type in an incident. This may obscure any additional crimes which may have occurred at the same time involving the same victim and perpetrator Hierarchy Rule—locate the offense that is highest on the hierarchy list in terms of seriousness Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Crime Counts v. Crime Rates The UCR provides crime counts and crime rates for each of the recorded offenses. Crime counts— important in providing an overall number of offenses committed not very useful when it comes to looking at trends over time or in making comparisons across states or to national levels due to differences in population. Crime rates —A crime rate is calculated by converting true counts of crime into standardized crime rates per a certain number of residents in the population. In many cases, crime rates are calculated as the number of crimes occurring for every 100,000 people in the population. Comparisons of crime become possible when looking at the number of crimes in this standardized manner. Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania in 2011 A total of 329,627 Part I Index crimes were reported to police in Pennsylvania in 2011 just over 2,500 out of every 100,000 Pennsylvania residents was a victim of a crime in 2011— overall increase of 2.1% in reported crimes over the previous year. This increase is notable because it is inconsistent with national trends. Overall violent crimes per 100,000 people dropped by 3.8% and property crimes dropped.5% nationally from 2010 to 2011 Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania: Index Crimes Violent Crime Murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault make up the violent crimes recorded in UCR data. Pennsylvania's rate of violent crime has historically been lower than that of the national average. Even with the lower overall rates of violent crime over time, the national and Pennsylvania rates have generally followed a similar pattern— increasing from 1960, with some fluctuation, through to the 1990s. Violent crime peaked nationally in 1991 Since this time, the national rate has been in a steep decline, with the violent crime rate falling Violent crime peaked in Pennsylvania in 1996,went into a shallow decline over the next 8 years but then rose again for three years starting in 2004. By 2007 violent crime rates began declining again but the gap between Pennsylvania and national rates of violent crime has quickly become much smaller Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania: Index Crimes Murder 1960 through 2004—the murder rate was lower than the national rates in Pennsylvania. 2005 through 2010— Pennsylvania's murder rate has surpassed that of the national rate. The murder rate still remains higher in Pennsylvania than it is in the nation as a whole, but only slightly. Additionally, the murder rate has dropped every year since the initial spike in murders in Pennsylvania in 2005. the state rate is still higher than the national rate, the murder rate in Pennsylvania is currently on a downward trend. Almost two-thirds (64.9%) of all murders in Pennsylvania in 2011 were committed against non- White victims. Non-Whites made up only 20.8% of Pennsylvania's population in 2011, but were murder victims at a rate of 15.7 per 100,000 non-Whites in the population. Almost three-fourths of these murders (73.8%) involved firearms When guns and firearms were not involved, other weapons included knives and other sharp objects (11.9%), blunt instruments (2.6%), personal weapons such as hands and feet (4.3%), strangulation (1.3%), and fire (.4%). Out of the 638 murders that took place, the relationship between the offender and the victim was established in 362 (56.7%) cases Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania: Index Crimes Forcible rape— "the carnal knowledge of a female through the use of force or the threat of force" ( this definition still applies since this data is from 2011) Forcible rape also includes rape of victims unable to give consent due to age or mental disability and attempted rape and related assaults. Additionally, Pennsylvania does not include statutory rape, incest, or sodomy as forcible rape unless force or lack of consent is involved. Nationally, rape rates peaked in 1992 and then began a general downward trend since that time. The Pennsylvania rate also hit a high in 1992 but did not peak until almost 15 years later, in early 2006 1960 through the mid 1990s- the national and state rape rates followed a similar pattern of increases and decreases. while the national rate and Pennsylvania's rate followed these similar patterns, the rate in Pennsylvania remained lower than the national rate. mid 1990s—national rape rate continued to decline, while Pennsylvania's rate began increasing. By the late 2000s the Pennsylvania forcible rape rate had begun declining again, as did the national rate. By 2010, both rates continued to decline but Pennsylvania had almost met the national rate of forcible rape Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania: Index Crimes Robbery : the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear Pennsylvania has generally had lower rates of robbery than the nation. However, even with rates decreasing since 2004, Pennsylvania's robbery rate has remained higher than the national rate since 2003. Before this turning point, robbery rates in Pennsylvania, while lower than the national rates, maintained a remarkably similar pattern of national robbery rates In PA—Just over half involved use of a weapon. Of these armed robberies, firearms were the most popular weapons used (6,805 total, 76% of armed robberies). In PA—most robberies occurred in public spaces, such as streets, parks, and parking lots Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
Recent Data: Crime in Pennsylvania: Index Crimes Aggravated Assault: the unlawful attack by one person upon another with the intent to inflict great bodily injury, usually accomplished by the use of a weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm includes attempted murder and attempted assault involving a deadly weapon. The use of a deadly weapon or the high level of severity of a victim's injuries distinguishes aggravated assault from simple assault the Pennsylvania rates of aggravated assault have remained lower than the national average rates. Rates of aggravated assault followed a generally upward trend both nationally and in Pennsylvania from 1960 through the early 1990s. In 1993, the national rate began dropping and, while Pennsylvania saw a small drop this same year, the rate of aggravated assault in Pennsylvania continued on a generally upward, though volatile, trend until the end of the period reported here in 2010 A weapon, besides hands and feet, was used in 57% of all aggravated assaults. Firearms (19.3%) and knives or other cutting objects (14.7%) were commonly seen in aggravated assaults. A large number of these crimes were committed using a variety of other dangerous weapons including Mace, pepper spray, clubs, bricks, jack handles, tire irons, bottles, other blunt instruments, explosives, acid, lye, poison, scalding, and burnings Copyright © Carolina Academic Press, 2014. All rights reserved.
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