According to the new "Crime in Texas Annual Report 2010" (pdf) from the Department of Public Safety, "this is the first time since 2000 that all seven index crime rates declined during the same year. Murder was down 7.4%, rape 9.2%, robbery 14.9%, aggravated assault 4.9%, burglary 5.9%, larceny/theft 4.9% and motor vehicle theft 12.3%." Overall, violent crime declined 8.3% and property crimes were down 5.7%.
Not only does it strike me as notable that these crime rates declined at the same time that Texas' incarceration rate has been declining (the prison population has remained steady the past few years while the overall population has grown tremendously), but property crime rates declined substantially despite the recession, calling into question the link between theft and unemployment/poverty. Even family violence incidents went down 1.6%, though with the economy on the fritz and the population growing you might expect the opposite result.
The number of arrests of adult Texans declined 4.6% last year while arrests of juveniles declined a whopping 9.3%. The decline in arrests for adults is especially significant in my view because adult arrests continued to increase over the last several years despite declining crime rates.
Among Texas cities with more than 100,000 residents, crime rates declined in all but three: Round Rock, which experienced an 8% crime spike (because that Williamson County "tuff on crime" approach works so well),
Houston: -5.9%Two Texas law enforcement officers were killed feloniously in the line of duty during 2010, while 13 officers were killed in duty-related accidents - also a decline from last year. Reported assaults on police officers declined 6% last year.
San Antonio: -2.7%
Fort Worth: -1.9%
El Paso: -5.1%
This news comes at a time when new diversion programs and higher parole rates at the Department of Criminal Justice have reduced incarceration rates substantially, creating a disconnect with those who argue that more incarceration reduces crime. And the decline in property crimes and domestic violence during what some have called the "Great Recession" runs counter to "common sense" assumptions that those rates will go up when more people become unemployed and desperate.
See the full report here (pdf).