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California crime keeps going down in 2014

This month, the Attorney General of California released new data for 2014 showing that crime in the state continued its downward trend. Violent crime decreased by 43 percent and property offenses declined by 54 percent since California’s crime rate peaked in the early 1990s.

Source: Graph from the Office of the Attorney General (2014).

In 2014, homicide rates continued the 20-year pattern of decline. The OAG shows that homicide decreased by a rate of 4.3 percent between 2013 and 2014. While overall violent crime continues to decrease, rape showed an increase of about 2,000 reported rapes. However, in 2014, the category of “rape” was broadened to include various forms of rape and both male and female victims. Not all agencies used the new definition of rape when submitting crime reports, so the OAG advises against making year-to-year comparisons with this data.

Robbery decreased by 10 percent from 2013 to 2014, and between 2009 and 2014, declined the most among all crimes by 26.8 percent. 2014 saw an increase in assaults with a 2.4 percent increase, after seeing a 6.9 percent decrease in 2013.

Source: Office of the Attorney General (2014). Note: Homicide and rape numbers are multiplied by 20 and 10, respectively, so that the downward trend is visible.

According to the OAG’s data, the property crime rate also continued to decline, showing a decrease of 9.4 percent from 2009–2014. During this period, burglaries decreased by 15 percent.

Source: Office of the Attorney General (2014).

Juvenile crime is also to rapidly decreasing, continuing California’s 30-year decline in youth crime into 2014. Youth arrests for felony offenses fell by about 53 percent between 2009 and 2014, and significantly decreased in all felony categories (violent, property, drug, and sex offenses).

Source: Office of the Attorney General (2014).

There is ample evidence of crime in California decreasing over the longer term, especially since crime has continued to decline even after passing reforms reducing the number of incarcerated people such as Public Safety Realignment. As crime keeps going down, the state of California has the opportunity to move its focus away from the expansion of jails and prisons, and instead reinvest in communities to prevent crime by alleviating poverty and providing greater access to education.

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