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.
Maryland’s prison population grew by three-fold from 1980 to 2006. Maryland spends more than 10 times as much on corrections as it does on education, spending $1.313 billion on corrections in 2013. Its prisons nearly reached their full capacity by 2010, though the prison population decreased slightly in the last few years, to 21,335 by 2013. At the same time, from its height in 1980 to 2013, crime in Maryland dropped by 53 percent. And the national crime rate was also cut in half.
What caused this drop? Was it the explosion in incarceration? Or was it something else?