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Too often, politicians and pundits use false narratives about rampant crime to justify America’s system of mass incarceration. Brennan Center for Justice counteracts these myths through authoritative data on local and national crime rates.

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Why It Matters

The urgent need for crim­inal justice reform is under­cut by myths of rising or out-of-control crime — what Pres­id­ent Trump, in his inaug­ural address, referred to as “Amer­ican carnage.” Accord­ing to this rhet­oric, keep­ing the public safe requires ever harsher, more punit­ive crim­inal justice policies, such as three-strikes laws and mandat­ory-minimum sentences. Without these meas­ures, it is often argued, a greater number of citizens will fall prey to the supposedly rampant viol­ence and disorder plaguing the nation. 

But the numbers tell a very differ­ent story. The Bren­nan Center’s author­it­at­ive and reli­able analyses show that crime rates have declined substan­tially since the early 1990s, with crime in Amer­ica’s largest cities (both the over­all crime rate and the viol­ent crime rate) remain­ing at or near historic lows. We need public policy that is based on facts and data, not polit­ics or scare-monger­ing. By updat­ing our research several times a year, we offer current, compre­hens­ive snap­shots of crime in the United States — debunk­ing false narrat­ives about a national “crime wave” and provid­ing the facts about crime to poli­cy­makers and the public.  

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