With new crime statistics released by the FBI showing an increase in overall violent crime, including homicides, it is critical to interpret this data carefully so we understand its implications for our crime-fighting efforts. The good news is that we are far safer than we were during the crime spike of the 1990s — a time where we saw an acceleration of policy choices that led directly to the “mass incarceration” challenge that policymakers across the spectrum are trying to shift away from.
Now is not the time to panic and lose the momentum we are seeing in justice reform. Instead, we should strive to better understand the uptick in crime and in that analysis separate out the juvenile and adult crime trends. And what that initial review of data shows is that while the rise in reported overall violent crime in the last year should draw our attention, particularly when the increase is concentrated in low-income communities that are home to many of our most vulnerable young people, juvenile violent crime is still at 20-year lows. In the last year alone, the number of youth arrested for violent crimes actually dropped by 3.1% and it is down almost 50% in the last ten years.