Monday, May 24, 2010

Recent US Trends: Crime down but domestic terrorism up

The FBI recently released a preliminary version of their annual crime statistics for 2009, and both violent and property crime have decreased significantly in the last year, all this in spite of an ongoing recession.
Yet preliminary crime figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 2009 show that the crime rate is falling across America, across all categories. Violent crime was down 5.5 percent and property crime down 4.9 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to FBI statistics released Monday.
In fact, crime in every category decreased, says FBI spokesman Bill Carter. Murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault all declined in 2009, he said. Robbery – which tends to boom in bust times – dropped 8.1 percent.
So, that's some great news reported by the CSMonitor, which also gives some potential explanations like an aging society and increased policing and incarceration. I find these explanations somewhat lacking, as I'm not sure how great of a change there was in these variables in the relevant time frame (2008 and 2009).

On the other hand, there has also been a lot of discussion over the past year about an increase in attempts and incidents of domestic terrorism. I cannot find any great sources to support such an increase, but certainly the topic has been more on the public's mind this year. There are basically two lines that this conversation has been following, which I never see overlap. One is a coverage of recent attacks perpetrated by homegrown jihadists, including the Fort Hood shooting and the sensationalized profiles of 'Jihad Jane.' The other side to domestic terrorism that we've heard a lot about is increases in rightwing extremism, under which could be classified the murder of abortion-provider Dr George Tiller and the intentional crashing of a plane into the IRS building in Austin. Homeland Security has increased efforts on domestic terrorism this year, and some polling indicates that Americans are more relatively more concerned about domestic terrorism than in 2002. Do any readers know of better sources for information on domestic terrorism?

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