Crime Reduction: Reality or Illusion

July 15, 1977

Report Outline
Criminal Activity in America
Past Efforts to Control Crime
Directions of Future Efforts
Special Focus

Criminal Activity in America

Perplexity Over Drop in Reported Crimes

The age-old problem of how to deal with crime continues to plague American society. With the last decade's “war on crime” declared a failure, old truisms such as rehabilitation, probation, parole and indeterminate sentencing are being reexamined and questioned. In searching for new ways to reduce the number of criminal acts committed in this country, criminologists and law-enforcement officials have entered an era of lowered expectations.

“Perhaps the most important thing we have learned in the last few years is that crime is not the kind of problem that is amenable to breakthrough—as in health, with the Salk vaccine, or the technology that put a man on the moon,” Gerald M. Caplan, ex-director of the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, has said. “It is a problem we will be picking away at for a long time to come, and with luck, there should be a little bit of progress here and a little bit there. Cumulatively it may add up to the kind of knowledge and programs that will have a major impact on our crime problem. That is our hope.”

Americans have grown so accustomed to hearing about rising crime that it came as a surprise in March when Attorney General Griffin B. Bell announced that the number of reported serious crimes across the country showed no increase in 1976 over 1975. This was the first time since 1972 that the nation's Crime Index, compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), did not rise. The 1976 figures were bolstered by new FBI figures released July 7, showing a 9 per cent decrease in crime in the United States for the first three months of 1977.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 10, 2017  Forensic Science Controversies
Feb. 05, 2016  Restorative Justice
Jan. 30, 2015  Central American Gangs
Aug. 29, 2014  Transnational Crime
Aug. 09, 2013  Sexual Assault in the Military
Oct. 26, 2012  Mexico's Future
Apr. 20, 2012  Criminal Records and Employment
Apr. 19, 2011  Honor Killings
Sep. 2010  Crime in Latin America
Jul. 16, 2010  Gangs in the U.S.
Jul. 17, 2009  Examining Forensics
Apr. 17, 2009  Wrongful Convictions Updated
Feb. 08, 2008  Fighting Crime
Oct. 11, 2002  Corporate Crime
Apr. 04, 1997  Declining Crime Rates
Dec. 10, 1982  Arson: America's Most Costly Crime
May 07, 1982  Helping Victims of Crime
Mar. 13, 1981  Violent Crime's Return to Prominence
Jul. 15, 1977  Crime Reduction: Reality or Illusion
Jan. 19, 1972  Crime of Rape
Jan. 22, 1969  Street Crime in America
Jan. 17, 1968  Burglary Prevention
Sep. 22, 1965  Compensation for Victims of Crime
Feb. 17, 1965  Criminal Justice and Crime Control
Oct. 18, 1961  Control of City Crime
Jun. 20, 1929  Crime and the Courts
Crime and Law Enforcement