Police Officer Numbers Fail to Keep Up With Growing US Population: Report

A report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that although the number of full-time sworn officers has increased from 1997 to 2016, the rate per 1,000 residents decreased by 11 percent, as the general population in the U.S. increased by 21 percent over the same period.

The number of law enforcement officers has failed to keep up with the increase in U.S. population, decreased over the past decade, according to a new report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Although the numbers of sworn officers increased by 52,000 (up by 8 percent), the report found that from 1997 to 2016, the rate of full-time sworn officers per 1,o00 decreased by 11 percent. During the same period, the general population in the U.S. increased by 21 percent.

Author Shelley Hyland, Ph.D., a BJS statistician, collected survey data from the Law Enforcement Agency Roster (LEAR) database, which includes a census of 15,810 general-purpose law enforcement agencies, including 12,695 local and county police departments, 3,066 sheriffs’ offices, and 49 primary state police departments.

Noting a steady decrease in police officers from 2000 to 2016, the report found the the 2016 rate of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents was also lower than the rates in 2000 (down seven percent), 2003 (down eight percent), and 2007 (down seven percent).

Other findings include the following:

  • The number of full-time employees in general-purpose law enforcement agencies increased by about 174,000 (up 20 percent from 1997 to 2016.
  • From 1997 to 2016, the number of full-time sworn ofcers in local police departments increased by about 48,000 (up 11 percent).
  • The number of full-time sworn officers in primary state police agencies increased by about 5,000 (up 10 percent) from 1997 to 2016.
  • From 1997 to 2016, the number of full-time civilians in general-purpose law enforcement agencies increased by about 121,000 (up 53 percent).
  • From 1997 to 2016, the number of full-time civilians in sherifs’ officers increased 110 percent, or by about 98,000.

A full copy of the report can be found here. 

This summary was prepared b y TCR staff reporter Megan Hadley.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Allegations of Sex Abuse Behind Bars Have Tripled: Report

Correctional administrators reported 24,661 allegations of sexual victimization in 2015, nearly triple the number recorded in 2011, according to a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Allegations of sexual abuse behind bars nearly tripled between 2011 and 2015, according to a study released Wednesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Correctional administrators recorded 24,661 allegations in 2015 compared to 8,768 allegations four years prior.

The increase coincided with the implementation of the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape in 2012. The standards, instituted by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, require BJS to collect data and report on the incidence and effects of sexual victimization in correctional facilities.

“We consider these findings a clear sign that prisoners are starting to trust the system [and report abuse], rather than an indication that sexual abuse in detention is skyrocketing. That’s a good thing,” Lovisa Stannow, the Executive Director of Just Detention International (JDI), an organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in detention settings, said in a press release yesterday.

“At the same time, today’s report exposes an appalling failure of corrections investigators to protect survivors and hold perpetrators of prisoner rape accountable.”

Of the nearly 25,000 total allegations, 41.8 percent were unsubstantiated, meaning that investigations to determine whether or not abuse occurred were inconclusive. Only about 6 percent of all reports were substantiated – 1,473 in total – though this still marks a 63 percent since 2011.

The rest of the allegations were unfounded, meaning an investigation concluded that no abuse occurred, or still under investigation.

JDI claims that the high number of unsubstantiated or unfounded reports is due in large part to investigative failures on the part of corrections staff, such as handling reports themselves rather than bringing in trained sexual abuse investigators and interviewing those alleging abuse with other prison staff in the room. These practices, JDI says, prevent people from speaking openly about their accusations.

“Corrections officials must uphold their responsibility to keep the people in their custody safe, and they must be diligent in investigating all sexual abuse allegations,” said Stannow. “Today’s report shows clearly that we have a long way to go before such reports are taken seriously.”

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Elena Schwartz. She welcomes readers’ comments.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Long View of Ex-Prisoners Finds 83% Recidivism Rate

A vast new study of recidivism by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that 44 percent of the 400,000 men and women released from state prisons in the U.S. in 2005 were arrested again during their first year of freedom. Sixty-eight percent were arrested within three years, 79 percent within six years, and 83 percent within nine years.

Five out of six state prisoners were arrested at least once during the nine years after their release, according to a vast new federal study that takes a granular long view at American recidivism patterns.

The report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics is the first to use a nine-year window to view criminal backsliding by a large sample group of prisoners released in 2005. Prior studies used three- or five-year follow-up periods.

The authors of the 23-page report, 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014), say the longer view “shows a much fuller picture of offending patterns and criminal activity of released prisoners.” It was written by BJS statisticians Mariel Alper and Matthew Durose and former BJS statistician Joshua Markman.

Using data submitted by both law enforcement agencies and state departments of corrections, the researchers tracked the offending patterns of a random sample of 67,966 prisoners from among the 401,288 prisoners released in 2005 in a total of 30 states.

Among their key findings:

  • The 400,000 released prisoners racked up nearly two million arrests during the nine-year period, or about five arrests per man or woman.
  • Forty-four percent were arrested during their first year following release, 68 percent were arrested within three years, 79 percent within six years, and 83 percent within nine years.
  • Seventy-seven percent of released drug offenders were arrested for a non-drug crime within nine years.
  • Released property offenders were more likely to be arrested again than released violent offenders.
  • Eight percent of prisoners arrested during the first year after release were arrested outside the state that released them. That number increased each year—apparently an indication of increasing interstate mobility. By year nine, 14 percent of those arrested were collared in another state.

David Krajicek is a contributing editor of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Jail Populations Keep Falling, Down 11.2% in 8 Years

The percentage of U.S. residents in jail dropped 3.4 percent from midyear 2012 to midyear 2016, says U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. County and city jails held 740,700 inmates at midyear 2016, far below the peak of 785,500 in 2008.

The percentage of U.S. residents in jail dropped 3.4 percent from midyear 2012 to midyear 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported  on Thursday. The jail incarceration rate fell from 237 inmates per 100,000 residents at midyear 2012 to 229 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear 2016. The incarceration rate fell 11.2 percent from midyear 2008, when there were 258 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, to midyear 2016.

County and city jails held 740,700 inmates at midyear 2016. This was below the peak of 785,500 inmates in 2008, the year with the most jail inmates since 1982, when the agency began its annual jail survey. In 2016, jails reported 10.6 million admissions, continuing a steady decline since 2008, when there were 13.6 million. On average, those admitted to jail in 2016 stayed 25 days. At the end of 2016, 65 percent of those in jail were not convicted of an offense but were awaiting court action on a current charge. The remaining 35 percent were sentenced offenders or convicted offenders awaiting sentencing. Nearly 7 in 10 inmates were held in jail on felony charges, while 1 in 4 were held for misdemeanor offenses.

The rate at which people were held in local jails varied widely by racial and ethnic groups. At year-end 2016, non-Hispanic blacks (599 per 100,000 black U.S. residents) had the highest jail incarceration rate, followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (359 per 100,000 American Indian or Alaska Natives residents). Hispanics (185 per 100,000 Hispanic residents) and non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 white residents) were incarcerated in jails at a similar rate at year-end 2016. Blacks were incarcerated in jail at a rate 3.5 times that of whites at year-end 2016. This was down from 5.6 times the rate in 2000.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S. Imprisonment Rate Down 11% Since 2008 Peak

Thirty-six states have reduced imprisonment rates since 2008, including declines of 15 percent or more in 20 states from diverse regions, says the Pew Charitable Trusts.

After peaking in 2008, the U.S. imprisonment rate fell 11 percent over eight years, reaching its lowest level since 1997, write Adam Gelb and Jacob Denney of the Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project. The decline from 2015 to 16 was 2 percent, mostly because of a drop in federal prisoners. The rate at which black adults are imprisoned declined 29 percent over the past decade. The ongoing decrease in imprisonment has occurred alongside long-term reductions in crime, the Pew writers say. Since 2008, the combined national violent and property crime rate dropped 23 percent.

On prisons, 36 states have reduced imprisonment rates since 2008, including declines of 15 percent or more in 20 states from diverse regions, such as Alaska, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Connecticut. Almost every state recorded a crime decrease with no apparent correlation to imprisonment. Across the 45 states with crime drops from 2008-16, imprisonment rate changes ranged from a 35 percent decrease to a 14 percent increase. The violent crime rate increased nationally in 2015 and 2016, but many cities are reporting reductions for 2017. Both violent and total crime rates remain near record lows. National, state, and local crime rates change for what Gelb and Denny call “complex and poorly understood reasons.” Overall, rates of reported violent and property crime have declined by more than half since 1991 peaks, falling to levels not seen since the late 1960s. Starting with Texas in 2007, more than 30 states have changed sentencing and corrections practices, aiming at improving public safety and controlling costs.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Feds, States Denied 226,000 of 17 Million Gun Applications in 2015: BJS Study

Pennsylvania led the five states which recorded the largest number of denials, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of national data on firearms background checks released this week. The data showed the overall 1.4 percent denial rate in 2015 has stayed roughly the same over the two decades since passage of the Brady Act.

Federal, state and local authorities across the country denied 226,000 applications for gun permits or firearm transfers out of a total of 17 million received in 2015, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study.

The number of rejections (1.4 percent) for 2015, the last year for which cumulative data were available, tracked closely the overall number of denials recorded since passage of the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required a criminal history background check on any individual attempting to purchase a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee.

The number of firearms applications also increased by two million, up from an estimated 15 million in 2014; but the percentage of applications denied only increased by a fraction (from 1.3 percent to 1.4 percent) in 2015.

In the two decades between approval of the Brady Act and 2015, authorities denied 1.5 percent (or three million) of the total 197 million applications, the study said.

Close to half (44 percent) of the denials by both federal and local agencies were based on previous felony convictions, according to the study’s summary of data on firearms background checks obtained through the Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) program.

The BJS study found that five states were responsible for the largest number of applications, led by Pennsylvania (989,298), followed by Florida (885,086), Illinois (581,547), Tennessee (510,233), and Virginia (444,627).

Tennessee also registered the highest percentage of denials (3.9 percent) in 2015.

The lowest percentage of denials was recorded in Connecticut (0.1 percent), followed by Alaska (0.4 percent).

The permanent provisions of the Brady Act, which went into effect Nov. 30, 1998, established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a database containing the names of individuals prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under federal or state law.

About 1,300 federal, state, and local agencies conduct background checks on persons who apply to purchase a firearm or for a permit that may be used to make a purchase. In accordance with the Brady Act, applicants must either undergo a NICS background check that has been requested by a dealer or present a state permit that has been qualified by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)  as an alternative to the point-of-transfer check.

The study was conducted by Jennifer C. Karberg, Ronald J. Frandsen and Joseph M. Durso, all of the Regional Justice Information Service ; Trent D. Buskirk, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts — Boston; and Allina D. Lee, of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The full BJS study and tables can be downloaded here.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Names Ex-Hudson Institute’s Anderson to Head BJS

Jeffrey H. Anderson, a conservative scholar chosen by President Trump to head the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, has no apparent experience in the field.

President Trump has announced his intention to appoint a director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) who has no apparent experience in the field.

He’s Jeffrey H. Anderson, a former senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who is described by the White House as a “constitutional scholar” and a “leader in formulating domestic policy proposals.”

Jeffrey Anderson

Jeffrey H. Anderson. Photo courtesy Hudson Institute

Anderson is a former political science professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Later he directed the 2017 Project with conservative writer William Kristol, where the White House says he “advanced creative proposals, including Main Street-oriented health-care, tax, and immigration reform.”

This year, the Trump administration named him to direct the Office of Health Reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where the White House said he led efforts “to reduce insurance premiums, regulatory burdens, and opioid abuse.”

The only statistical experience cited by the White House in Anderson’s background was co-creating the Anderson and Hester Computer Rankings, which boast of computing college football’s “most accurate strength of schedule ratings,” taking into account the quality of teams’ opponents.

The BJS directorship once required Senate confirmation, but Congress changed the law in 2012 and made the job a presidential appointment.

BJS, established in 1979, says its mission is “to collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.”

It is perhaps most well known for the annual publication of the National Crime Victimization Survey, which measures crime through interviews with Americans on whether they were victims of crime in the previous year.

The report is considered more complete than the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report because it includes the many offenses not reported to law enforcement agencies.

BJS directors under President Obama, James Lynch of the University of Maryland and William Sabol, now of Georgia State University, both were long-time criminologists and recognized experts in crime and justice statistics.

In May, under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, four former BJS directors wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging that “serious consideration” to head BJS, which operates in Sessions’ Department of Justice, “to individuals who have strong leadership, management, and scientific skills; experience with federal statistical agencies; familiarity with BJS and its products; visibility in the nation’s statistical community; ability to interact productively with Congress and senior DOJ staff; and acceptance of the National Academies’ Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency.”

The letter was signed by Lynch, Sabol, Jeffrey Sedgwick, who served as BJS director in the last three years of the George W. Bush administration and now directs the Justice Research and Statistics Association, and Lawrence Greenfeld, who headed BJS in the first five years of the Bush administration.

Anderson does not appear to have any of those qualifications.

The same four recent BJS directors wrote in May to leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees arguing that the requirement for Senate confirmation for the BJS director should “be restored and that the director’s status be changed from serving at the will of the president to serving a fixed term of at least four years, staggered from the presidential election.”

The ex-directors said in their letter: “It is imperative that policy discussions about the often-contentious issues regarding crime and justice be informed by statistical data trusted by the public to be objective, valid, and reliable…”

“To ensure BJS data are viewed as objective and of highest quality, BJS must be seen as an independent statistical agency wherein data collection, analysis, and dissemination are under the sole control of the BJS.”

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Most Hate Crimes Not Reported to Police: BJS

U.S. residents experienced an average 250,000 hate crime victimizations annually between 2004 and 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported today. Between 2011-2015, some 54 percent of the cases were handled privately, through non-law enforcement, or were not considered important enough to report officially. In the same period, nearly half were linked to racial bias, and 17 % blamed religious bias.

U.S. residents experienced an average of 250,000 hate crime victimizations each year from 2004 to 2015 and the majority of these were not reported to police, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. There was no statistically significant change in the rate of violent hate crime victimization (about 0.7 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older) during the 12-year period.

The findings come from BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which collects data on nonfatal crimes both reported and not reported to police. Hate crimes in the NCVS are defined according to the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which specifies hate crimes as those that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

Nearly half (48 percent) of hate crime victimizations were motivated by racial bias during the five-year aggregate period from 2011 to 2015. This was down from the earlier 2003-07 period, when nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of hate crime victims perceived the victimizations to be motivated by racial bias.

During 2011-15, about a third of hate crime victims believed they were targeted because of their ethnicity (35 percent) or gender (29 percent). More than a fifth of victims believed the hate crime was motivated by bias against persons or groups with which they were associated (23 percent) or their sexual orientation (22 percent). Seventeen percent of victims perceived the hate crime was motivated by religious bias and 16 percent thought the bias against them was because of a disability.

Violent crime accounted for a higher percentage of hate (90 percent) than non-hate (25 percent) victimizations during 2011-15. The majority of hate crimes during the period were simple assault (62 percent), followed by aggravated assault (18 percent), robbery (8 percent) and theft (7 percent).

More than half (54 percent) of violent hate crime victimizations were not reported to police during 2011-15. The most common reason for not reporting violent hate crime to police was that the victimization was handled another way (44 percent), such as privately or through a non-law enforcement official, followed by not important enough to report (20 percent). Violent hate crimes reported to police (10 percent) were nearly three times less likely to result in an arrest than violent nonhate crimes reported to police (28 percent).

For both hate (1.2 per 1,000) and non-hate (24.9 per 1,000) crimes, the rates of victimization were highest in urban areas. The rate of hate crime victimization for those living in suburban areas was 0.7 per 1,000, while the rate for persons in rural areas was 0.4 per 1,000. The rate of violent hate victimization occurring in the West (1.6 per 1,000) was greater than that of any other region.

Other findings from the report:

  • The offender used hate language in almost all hate crime victimizations (99 percent).
  • In 7 percent of hate crime victimization the incident was confirmed to be a hate crime by police investigators, and in 5 percent the offender left hate symbols at the scene.
  • Males (0.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older) and females (0.8 per 1,000) had similar rates of violent hate crime victimization during 2011-15.
  • Hispanics (1.3 per 1,000) experienced a higher rate of violent hate victimization than non-Hispanic whites (0.7 per 1,000).
  • Young persons ages 12 to 17 had a higher rate of violent hate victimization than persons age 50 or older.
  • Persons in households in the lowest income bracket ($24,999 or less) had the highest rate of hate crime victimization when compared to all other income categories.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of violent hate crime victimizations were committed by a stranger.

Editor’s Note: For further reading, see TCR “120 Fed Agencies Fail to Report Hate Crimes to FBI”

Summary prepared by Ted Gest, Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report, and president of Criminal Justice Journalists.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Police Vehicle Chases Killed One a Day Over 20 Years

Federal highway data shows more than 7,000 deaths resulting from police vehicle pursuits between 1996 and 2015. A Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis shows that fatalities peaked in 2006 and 2007, but USA Today has reported that the data likely understate the death toll because some police reports don’t disclose chases.

Between 1996 and 2015, police vehicle pursuits resulted in more than 6,000 fatal crashes, says the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BJS) reported today. These crashes resulted in more than 7,000 deaths, an average of 355 per year (about one per day). Fatalities peaked in 2006 and 2007, with more than 400 deaths each year. (USA Today, also drawing from federal highway data over a much longer period, has reported that at least 11,506 people, including 6,300 fleeing suspects, were killed in police chases from 1979 through 2013. The newspaper said those figures likely understate the actual death toll because federal officials use police reports to determine if a crash was chase-related, and some reports do not disclose that a chase occurred.)

BJS said that state and local law enforcement agencies conducted an estimated 68,000 vehicle pursuits in 2012. All local police departments serving 250,000 or more residents and nearly all (95 percent) of those serving 50,000 to 249,999 residents conducted vehicle pursuits that year.  As of January 2013, all state police and highway patrol agencies and all local police departments serving 25,000 or more residents had a written vehicle pursuit policy, BJS said. An estimated 2 percent of local police departments and 1 percent of sheriffs’ offices prohibited vehicle pursuits. No state police or highway patrol agencies prohibited pursuits. Most local police departments (71 percent), sheriffs’ offices (63 percent) and state law enforcement agencies (53 percent) restricted pursuits based on specific criteria, such as speed, type of offense and surrounding conditions. The data were based on a 2013 survey by BJS.


from https://thecrimereport.org