[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced Thursday that the national rate of violent crime decreased by 13 percent [press release] during 2010. The announcement stemmed from statistics in the annual National Crime Victimization Survey [text, PDF], which consists of self-reported information and is complied by the Bureau of Justice Statistics [official website] to estimate the rates and level of criminal victimization including violent victimization, property victimization and personal theft. According to the report, this decrease is in line with the trend of declining victimization, with both violent and property victimizations at their lowest levels since the early 1990s. The rather dramatic drop in violent victimization is attributed to a decrease in the number of simple assaults, which saw a 15 percent decline from 2009. The report for 2010 also differed from previous years in its indication that for the first time males and females experienced similar rates of victimization with males historically experiencing higher numbers.
Rates of violent crime along the US-Mexico border [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] have also been declining for several years [JURIST report], according to a USA Today analysis released in July. The study indicated that, on average, US border cities were safer than other cities in the same states, with border cities maintaining lower crimes rates than the national average. Federal crime statistics, interviews and crime data from over 1,600 local law enforcement agencies in four border states, as well as demographic figures from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey [official website], form the basis of the study. The analysis suggests that the US-Mexico border may not be as dangerous as the general US population perceives. For example, according to the study, murder and robbery rates for cities within 50 miles of the border were lower than the respective state average in nearly every year from 1998 to 2009. Critics of the study are concerned that the analysis does not accurately reflect the true landscape of violent crime in border cities and fails to take into consideration those crimes that go unreported, particularly kidnapping and extortion. Several analysts quoted in the report, however, argue that the analysis confirms that politicians have exaggerated the extent to which violence occurs along the US-Mexico border and make unsubstantiated claims linking illegal immigration to crime rates.