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 Illinois, the prison population grew three-fold from 1980 to 2012. In 2013, the prison population decreased slightly by 700 prisoners, still leaving Illinois with 48,653 state prisoners. Illinois spent $1.295 billion on corrections in 2013. At the same time, crime in Illinois dropped by 57 percent from its height in 1991 to 2013. And the national crime rate was cut in half.
What caused this drop? Was it the explosion in incarceration? Or was it something else?