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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Crime on the rise?

Public perception of crime remains out of sync with reality, criminologist contends

Posted: November 13, 2008
When the FBI and Department of Justice release their annual reports on crime in the United States, Dr. Mark Warr's phone starts ringing. His voicemail fills with interview requests from reporters seeking the criminologist's expertise for stories on rising crime.

But the angle of many news stories based on FBI data--that violent crime is a growing national problem--is frustrating, the professor of sociology says, because it's inaccurate.

"Many people don't realize that while reported crime may appear to go up in a given year, that doesn't mean real crime rates are on the rise," Warr says. "Based on data from a variety of measurement tools, the overall trend is actually quite good. In fact, the homicide rate in the western world has actually been declining for more than 700 years."

Warr has studied social reaction to crime for three decades, published dozens of studies on crime, public opinion and victimization, authored a book on delinquency and served a
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