What Caused the Crime Decline? examines 14 different theories for the massive decline in crime across the country over the last two decades. It provides a rigorous empirical analysis conducted by a team of economics and criminal justice researchers on over 40 years of data, gathered from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities.
Over the past 40 years, states across the country have sought to fight crime by implementing policies to increase incarceration. The result: The United States is now the largest jailor in the world. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 25 percent of its prisoners.
In Florida, the incarceration rate was 38 percent higher than the national average by 2010. After Florida passed “truth in sentencing” legislation in 1995, most state prisoners must serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentences before release. The state’s “three strikes” legislation and mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving firearms also contributed to the increase in its number of prisoners to 103,028 by 2013. Florida spent $2.316 billion a year on corrections in 2013. At the same time, crime in Florida dropped from its height in 1988 to 2013 by 60 percent. And the national crime rate was cut in half.
What caused this drop? Was it the explosion in incarceration? Or was it something else?