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Violent Crime in the US

Image of Bryan Hill, Founder of Pistol Wizard Bryan Hill / March 10 2021

A burglar approaches through an opened door.

What are your odds of being targeted for violence in the US? If you face a violent criminal, what kind of person are they? How likely are they to change their ways, or continue on the path of crime?

On This Page:

  1. Lifetime Risk of Violent Crime Victimhood (2016)
  2. Violent Federal Criminals: Rate of Repeat Offenders (2019)
  3. Rate of Repeat Offenders in 30 States (2018)
  4. Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective (2012)
  5. Conclusions

Lifetime Risk of Violent Crime Victimhood (2016)

Lifetime Likelihood Computations With NIBRS (2016)
This uses data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the Summary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, and National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to calculate lifetime risk of violent crime in the US.

Key Takeaways
  • Overall in the US, 83% (5 of 6) people will be targeted at least once in their lives.
  • 52% will be targeted 2 or more times.
  • Other demographic factors can change your risk (gender, age, etc.)
  • Men have a higher risk (89%, or 9 in 10) of being targeted than women (73%, or 3 in 4).
  • As you get older, you're less likely to be targeted for violence in the future:


Violent Federal Criminals: Rate of Repeat Offenders (2019)

Recidivism Among Federal Violent Offenders (2019)

After release from jail or prison, how often do violent criminals return to crime compared to non-violent ones? This official government report answers that and more by following 401,288 convicts.

This study covers federal offenders. The next study, Rate of Repeat Offenders in 30 States (2018), covers state offenders.

Key Takeaways
Violent criminals:
  • Go on to commit crimes again more often.
  • Are arrested again sooner.
    (Median: 18 months for violent, 24 months for non-violent)
  • Are arrested for worse crimes after release.
  • 95% of those arrested within one year of release were arrested again in subsequent years, and on average a convict was arrested 5 times after their first release.
    Repeat offenders keep repeating.
  • Most violent federal criminals return to crime after release. Keep this in mind if you meet one.

Rate of Repeat Offenders in 30 States (2018)

2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014)
In 30 states, how often do criminals return to crime after release from jail or prison? This official government report answers that and more.

Key Takeaways
  • Most studies like this only look at 3 years of data. This one looked at 9 years, giving a clearer picture of how criminals behave after release.
  • Within 9 years, about 5 out of 6 released criminals were arrested again (83.4%).
    This largely holds across gender, age, and race. The most variance within these demographic groups was 10-15%.
  • Almost 2 of 5 criminals (39.1%) went on to commit a violent crime after release. Violent offenders were a little more likely (43.4%).
  • If you meet a criminal, keep this in mind for yourself and your family.

Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective (2012)

Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective (2012)
422 randomly-selected, incarcerated male and female burglars across three states (North Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio) answered questions about their methods and motivations.

Key Takeaways
  • On average, burglars had been arrested about 13 times already. The most was 100 times!
  • 88% of burglars reported their top reason for committing burglaries was for drugs (51%) or money (37%).
  • Screwdrivers were the most commonly reported tool, followed by crow bars and hammers.
  • Only about 1 of 4 burglars reported that they mostly work alone.
  • Only 12% usually planned their burglaries, 41% usually did it spur of the moment, and the rest varied. When planning did occur, nearly half (49%) planned for a day or less.
  • About 43% would skip a house if they found it had an alarm before entering, and 50% would quit a burglarly in progress upon realizing an alarm was present. 80% would never attempt to disarm an alarm. Alarms are a great layer of protection, but don't rely on them alone.
  • What else deters burglars? The following were "considered" by burglars before burglarizing. Unfortunately, the effect of the deterrents aren't well defined.
  • Most burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open. Only about one in 8 (12%) picked locks or used a stolen/found key to get inside.
    Hardening your doors with something cheap and simple like 3-4" wood screws in the strike plate goes a long way.

    You can get simple alarms for your windows at $4-5 apiece, and they install in minutes.


Conclusions

Most of us will be the target of a criminal at sometime in our lives. Of those criminals:
  • Around 5 of 6 will return to crime after jail or prison.
  • Around 2 of 5 will go on to commit at least one violent crime.
  • Around 1 of 50 violent ones will go on to kill at least one person.

Related Articles



References

  1. Recidivism Among Federal Violent Offenders (2019)
  2. 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014)
  3. Lifetime Likelihood Computations With NIBRS (2016)
  4. Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective (2012)


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