Measuring Crime

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    • 00:03

      SPEAKER: An important task in the criminal justice systemis measuring crime.It's important to measure crime for several reasons.Probably most broadly, it's important to do itbecause it's a measure of the well-being of our society.A society that has a lot of crime going onsuggests something unhealthy is happening, whereas, say,if you're watching crime trends over time

    • 00:23

      SPEAKER [continued]: and they're going down, this suggestssome good things are happening.Another benefit of measuring crimeis that it gives us information on groupswho may be disproportionately experiencing victimization.It's important to understand thisso that we can develop policies and ways to alleviatethat suffering.In the United States, two major entities

    • 00:43

      SPEAKER [continued]: collect national data that's most widelyused in measuring crime.That would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation,part of the Department of Justice,and also the Bureau of Justice Statistics,which is also a bureau in the Department of Justice.The FBI has been collecting data on crime, offenders,law enforcement agents, since the early 1920s.

    • 01:04

      SPEAKER [continued]: The Bureau of Justice Statistics got in on in the early 70swith the National Crime Victimization Survey.Both measures of crime are very important,although they don't measure crime exactly the same way.Many people wonder why have two measures of crime,but I ask them, why have two measures of weather?Why have two measures of the economy?It's important to have different measures of crime

    • 01:25

      SPEAKER [continued]: because together they give a more full picture of what'shappening in society in terms of crime.An inevitable outcome of using different measures of crimeare that sometimes they don't have the same findings.For example, one year and you may hear that the FBI claimscrime is going up, while the Bureau of Justice Statisticsclaims that crime is going down.This gets people excited or upset,

    • 01:47

      SPEAKER [continued]: and there's no need to be that way.If people understand the differences in the waythese crime measures are collected,then it would make perfect sense.For example, the FBI gathers data from police departmentsand law enforcement agencies through the nationas a voluntary program.So the crime that they're talking about,if it's going up or going down, dealswith crime that has been reported to the police.

    • 02:10

      SPEAKER [continued]: In contrast, the Bureau of Justice Statisticswith the National Crime Victimization Surveygo out to people's homes, talk to people in homesand on the phone about their experiences as crime victims,or their property being-- victims of property crime.This means that the crime that the NCVS is measuringincludes both what is reported and not reported to the police.

    • 02:32

      SPEAKER [continued]: Up to about 50% of violent crime is never even broughtto the attention of police, so youcan see why they there may be differences in what the FBIand BJS are saying.In addition, the crimes that are measuredby each of those collections differ a bit.Obviously, the FBI collects information on homicide.When you're hearing about homicide trends,this is coming from the FBI.

    • 02:53

      SPEAKER [continued]: The NCVS does not offer information on homicide.Frequently people comment, why is that?That seems silly.But people must remember that we're talking to victimsof crime, and homicide victims clearly cannot respond.So that's one element that makes it very different.Another difference is that the FBI collects dataon smaller geographic areas.

    • 03:15

      SPEAKER [continued]: For example, with FBI data, one can look and seehow Denver, Colorado or Houston, Texas or Salt Lake Cityis doing in terms of violent and property crime.The National Crime Victimization Surveyis just that, it is a national measure of crime.One can look at four different regions, and in the futurewe hope to be able to do smaller geographic area estimates,but currently that's not available.

Measuring Crime

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Abstract

Professor Callie Marie Rennison explains the importance of measuring crime. She identifies the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics as two entities that measure crime, and she explains the differences between how each conducts its assessment.

Measuring Crime

Professor Callie Marie Rennison explains the importance of measuring crime. She identifies the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics as two entities that measure crime, and she explains the differences between how each conducts its assessment.

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