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Explain the harm that occurs when crime is racialized. . Some of the research that relies on crime statistics leads to misperceptions about race and crime. What other entity contributes to these misperceptions by its unbalanced focus on violent crime? Do the racial categories currently utilized by the UCR adequately reflect the current U.S. population? Explain your answer, communicating any suggestions for change.

Extent of Crime and Victimization

Chapter 2

Extent of Crime and Victimization

How much crime is there in the United States?

What are the victimization trends in the United States?

Are there differences by race?

Where can we find answers to these questions?

How reliable and valid are crime statistics in empirical research?

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Extent of Crime and Victimization

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is the primary statistical agency in the U.S. Department of Justice

Some of the research that relies on crime statistics leads to misperceptions about race and crime

Although crime statistics were not initially designed to label certain groups of people as criminals, this is exactly what has occurred

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History of Crime and Victimization Statistics in the United States

The history of crime statistics in the United States dates back to the 19th century

Several state legislatures mandated the collection of statistics on crime and criminals.

Judicial statistics

Prison statistics

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New York (1829) and Pennsylvania (1847) required clerks of the courts to submit transcripts or statements of convictions and/or criminal business. In 1832, Massachusetts mandated that the attorney general report his work and the work of the district attorneys to the legislature. In Maine (1839), county attorneys were required to report the number of persons prosecuted and their offenses to the attorney general who also was required to submit a report to the governor. Twenty-five states legislated the collection of judicial criminal statistics between 1829 and 1905 (L. N. Robinson, 1911).

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The Uniform Crime Reporting Program

In 1930, the FBI began collecting data from police departments

Seven offenses comprised the crime index:

Murder/nonnegligent manslaughter

Forcible rape

Robbery

Aggravated assault

Burglary

Larceny/theft

Motor vehicle theft

In 1979, arson was added

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The Uniform Crime Reporting Program, cont.

In 1980, the UCR renamed arrest race categories to include American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander

During the 1980s, efforts to modernize the UCR program resulted in the implementation of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

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The NIBRS has several advantages over the UCR program, although not all states participate in it. It is scheduled to replace the UCR on January 1, 2021.

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Victimization Surveys

In 1972, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration implemented the NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey)

The survey includes collected information from a representative sample of households on victims of nonfatal violent and property crimes in the United States

Early surveys included approximately 100,000 persons and 50,000 households

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In 2000, questions were added to the NCVS to identify victims of hate crimes.

Enhanced screening questions are believed to have improved recall of respondents about domestic violence, rape, and sexual attacks, which has led to higher estimates of some victimization rates.

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Limitations of Arrest and
Victimization Data

Crime statistics are unreliable because they cannot tell us how much crime takes place, how many persons were arrested, or how many crime victims there are

Definition of racial categories is limited

Racial categories do not account for ethnic differences within groups (e.g., Jamaican, Haitian, and African)

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Defining Racial Categories

Despite efforts to improve racial/ethnic categories, they are fatally flawed for two reasons

They are unable to capture intraracial and intraethnic heterogeneity

How racial categories and ethnicity are determined is questionable and often inaccurate

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Variations in Reporting and Recording

For various reasons, citizens do not report, and police do not record, all crimes

Police selectively enforce the law, which might contribute to variations by race

Variations in crime categories

Recording only the most serious crimes is also problematic for the UCR

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Using a sample of 810 randomly selected adults from Pennsylvania in 2010, Gabbidon and Higgins (2013) asked respondents two questions on race and crime statistics: first, “Do you support law enforcement agencies’ recording of arrest statistics by race”; and second, “Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statement: The recording of arrest statistics by race promotes racial stereotypes.” On the first question, the results showed that more than 50% of the sample did not support the recording of race crime statistics. This result held true even after controlling for the race of the respondent. On the second question, the results showed that nearly 60% of the sample felt that recording race and crime statistics promotes racial stereotypes. On this question, non-Whites were more likely than Whites to believe that recording race and crime statistics promotes stereotypes.

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Utilization of Population, Crime,
Arrest, and Victimization Estimates

Estimations are an important part of the methodology and findings reported in both the UCR and NCVS

The UCR uses population estimates to calculate the crime and arrest rates

The NCVS relies on a sample of the population to estimate crime victimizations

Though victimization statistics have their limitations, they have value for examining patterns and trends by race/ethnic categories

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Several of the problems with the NCVS samples:

First, representativeness of the samples.

Second, survey estimates are based on sampling units that may not adequately capture all racial groups in the population.

Third, for Asians and American Indians, the sample size is so small that it affects the reliability of the estimate.

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Arrest Trends

The UCR provide crime data for eight offenses (four violent crimes against the person and four property crimes)

In 2016, the violent crime rate was much lower than the property crime rate

Compared to earlier decades, the number of arrests have trended downward in all racial categories

Between 2012 and 2016, Whites and Blacks were mostly arrested for drug violations

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Recent trends show Whites arrested more often than Blacks for aggravated assaults and rapes.

There is no way to determine the number of Hispanics/Latinos still included in the White category because not all agencies report ethnicity data.

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Victimization Trends

The NCVS publishes other reports that present victimization trends and analyses of victimization within racial groups

Unlike the UCR, since 1977, the NCVS has included a separate category for “Hispanic/Latino” and, more recently, “Two or More Races”

Homicide victimizations are reported annually in the UCR Supplementary Homicide Reports and have been published in the NCVS as well

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Victimization Trends

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Domestic Violence and Interpersonal Violence Victimization

Domestic violence victimization (DVV) refers to both fatal and nonfatal incidents that take place in families, between intimate partners, or with friends and acquaintances

Offenses occur regardless of one’s race, age, or class

2003–2012 rates of domestic violence are highest for persons between 18 and 24 years old

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Race and Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or other services and for coercive commercial sex acts

According to the FBI’s Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS), in 2016, there were 916 adults arrested for human trafficking, with Whites (626) and Blacks (251) predominating the arrests

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Homicide Victimizations

Homicide is one of the more accurately measured offenses

Arrest trends for murder/nonnegligent manslaughter can be analyzed by type of jurisdiction where the arrest occurred

Between 2012 and 2015, Blacks arrested for murder outnumbered Whites arrested in cities

In metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties and suburban areas, the number of Whites arrested for murder outnumbered Blacks

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Hate Crime Trends

The terms hate or bias crimes refer to offenses committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability

Lynching was one of the earliest types of hate crimes, though it was not always considered a criminal act

As long as hate/bias statistics have been available, most offenses reported are motivated by anti-Black bias

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According to the NCVS, half of victims of hate crimes reported perceiving race as the primary offender motivation.

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Hate Crime Trends

Hate crime is more likely than street crime to involve crimes against the person than crimes against property

Hate crime is also more likely to be interracial; the race of most known offenders is White

BJS study found that young offenders were responsible for most hate crimes

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Although there were fewer crimes against property, destruction/damage/vandalism ranked second to intimidation in hate/bias crime incidents.

The NCVS collects information on victims’ perceptions of incidents based on the offenders use of hate language and symbols

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Conclusion

For more than 70 years, the UCR has been the primary source of crime statistics

For over 30 years, the NCVS has provided victimization data

While the data provide information about race and crime, racial categorization in each data set is problematic

Although hate/bias crimes have occurred for several hundred years, the collection of hate crime statistics is rather recent

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Decades of comparisons made between Blacks and Whites as arrestees and victims have resulted in several misperceptions

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Conclusion, cont.

Crime statistics tell us either nothing (UCR) or little (NCVS) about the effects of class and crime

Fixation on violent crimes has contributed to the racialization of crime

Hate crimes reveal a dimension of race and crime that is often ignored

Blacks are more likely to be the victims of bias crimes than any other group

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