Tag Archives: UCR

New Jail Information & Crime Trends

Crime trends have been decreasing in the United States since the 90’s. Now to be clear, that’s a reference to rates, as opposed to numerical quantities, but the data is pretty clear that crime overall is decreasing in the US and has been since the 90’s.

This US crime trend graphic is based on FBI UCR data collected from all law enforcement agencies in the United States. That the data is pretty clear that crime is in fact on a decreasing trend, that’s a problem for people that want to build big expensive jails and plush sheriff ‘headquarters.’

US Crime Trends - 1960-2010- UCR

The graphic above stops at 2010, but to be sure, I went to FBI’s website to find the most current crime data and confirmed that the trend continues today based on the most current data.
Property Crime 2009-2013 - FBI Violent Crime 2009-2013 - FBI

Reference: FBI Property Crime data and FBI Violent Crime data pages.

The above data shows clearly that crime rates are in fact decreasing in the US. Similar data for Washington State shows trends in line with the above graphics, but I’ll have to add those later when I find them again.

Here’s one important aspect that is often overlooked by big government types who push these sorts of big projects, crime clearance rates. This is an important factor to consider as well and my experience has been that investigations are too often neglected and/or an underfunded police function. (I’m not blaming anyone or pointing fingers with this, because it’s much harder to accomplish than it might appear, trust me, but I don’t think it should be overlooked either.)

I’d suggest to you that it’s probably because there’s no money in it for the jail industry profiteers, which we’ll eventually get around to as well.

Crime Clearance Rates 2013 - FBI

Reference: FBI Crime Clearance data

The point of this information is that any discussions of increasing or growing incarceration capacities or capabilities needs to be within a context of understanding that includes acknowledging the decreasing crime trends.

I hadn’t checked in awhile, but I see that Whatcom County has done a very good job of providing one central place to find the supporting information for their case for the new jail project. It’s well organized, it looks nice and the information is easy to find. It’s well done.

I’m in the process of reviewing what has been posted (Whatcom County – New Jail Information) on the county website. It’s going to take some time to go through it all, but I thought I’d post it for anyone else who may have also been unaware.

Just a few early thoughts while I’m absorbing and digesting all of this new information. Fluff comes to mind. A lot of fluff. There is substance too, but it’s packaged in a bed of an awful lot of fluff. If it were such a clear and compelling need to do it the way that is being suggested, I would think a much simpler case could easily be made?

I couldn’t help but notice what appears to be an overly stringent adherence to, if not an embellishment of, national standards, law and higher federal authorities like the DOJ,….when it suits them, but when it doesn’t suit them,….not so much.

It’s clear the county exec, sheriff and I presume county prosecutor want a new facility done their way, but thus far I remain unconvinced that it’s a true necessity as presented, based on what I’ve seen so far, on other data and my own personal experiences. I do know this though, if there’s anyone that can fluff with the best of them, it’s Bill Elfo and he’s very smooth at it.

I’d like to hear about what is being done to enhance investigations, because Whatcom County’s crime clearance rates have not been the best either and surely would be in line with the national trends. I have a few examples to explore sometime later when time permits. One in particular I think you may find surprising.

One parting thought.

A key date is upcoming and I get the feel from the presentation that county officials feel that it’s already in the bag. ‘November 2015:  Ballot Measure for Sales Tax.’ The vote.

I’ve learned in discussions with others that state law allows for a maximum  .3% tax for public safety concerns. We already have a .1% tax for the interim jail facility on Division Street and I hear that the ballot measure will be for an additional .2% increase for the Labounty Rd. jail project. Hmmm.