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A Matter of Fact

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) crime index for 1996 (preliminary figures) showed an overall crime rate decrease of 3 percent. Violent crime decreased 7 percent. It was the largest single-year drop since 1982, and marks the fifth consecutive year that UCR crime rates have declined.

California's largest cities experienced a 12 percent decline in the 1996 crime rate, the largest single-year decrease on record according to state justice department records.

New York City recorded just 45 murders in the month of April, 1997, the first time since 1966 that there were fewer than 50 homicides in the city in a single month. The homicide rate in NYC is down 29 percent from the same period in 1996. Overall serious crime is down 15.6 percent from 1996.

A congressional study noted that half of all U.S. homicides occur in the nation's 63 largest cities, which together comprise only 16 percent of the U.S. population. Overall, the study found that 10 percent of all places in the nation are where about 60 percent of all "crime" occurs. And where are these areas? "Urban poverty areas," the report concludes.

In 1995, U.S. banks lost a reported $59 million in bank robberies. By comparison, during the same period, banks lost $850 million in check fraud.

From 1982 to 1995, the proportion of U.S. police agencies with SWAT teams increased from 59 percent to 89 percent.

The Child Welfare League of America examined the arrest records of 75,000 children ages 9 to 12 in 1996. It found the arrest rate for abused children was 60 per 1,000 compared to 0.89 per 1,000 for non-abused children.

When the Supreme Court legitimized "civil commitment" in June, 1997, more than 250 'sex predators" nationwide had already been committed. Washington committed 52 since 1990. Wisconsin had committed 82 just since 1994.

The Washington Institute for Public Policy studied recidivism among sex offenders released under Washington's "community notification" law. The Institute said those offenders had a recidivsm rate of 19 percent, compared with another group released without community notification which had a 22 percent recidivism rate.

Texas led the nation with nineteen executions in 1995. Only three Texas prisoners were executed in 1996, however, while courts reviewed newly enacted provisions in Texas state law regulating death row appeals. The courts gave the go-ahead in December, 1996, and the flood gates opened. In the first six months of 1997, Texas executed twenty-six, and expects to kill 40 by year's end.

The California state prison population in January, 1997, was 146,500 -- up 21,000 from 1995. The California Department of Corrections (CDC) consumes about 8.5 percent of the state budget.

In addition to the 146,500 CDC prisoners, another roughly 90,000 persons are incarcerated in California in everything from federal prisons and local jails to county camps and juvenile facilities.

Canadian federal and provincial prisons held 33,785 on any given day in 1996, up by a mere 26 prisoners from 1995. It was the third straight year of non-growth.

As of March, 1997, 5, 371 prisoners from 12 other states were being housed in 21 "rent-a-jail" facilities in Texas, up from 4,781 out of state guests in January.

The number of privately managed prison beds in the U.S. is growing by 35 percent a year, according to the Investor's Business Daily.

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