Forecasting US Crime Rates and the Impact of Reductions in Imprisonment: 1960-2025

By James Austin and Richard Rosenfeld
September 2023

In the latest of a series of HFG reports forecasting crime trends at the US national level and for selective states and (forthcoming) cities, James Austin and Richard Rosenfeld again created statistical models that retroactively “predicted” property and violent crime rates for past years with great accuracy and then used these models to forecast crime trends in the near future. This report concerns national trends, updating the authors’ national-level HFG report released in 2020, before the social and economic disruptions of the pandemic and civil unrest over police violence interrupted a 25-year declining or flat trend in violent crime.

Austin and Rosenfeld forecast very modest increases in violent crime and then a flattening trend by 2025 as well as a continuation of the longstanding decline in property crime. They also use their forecasting models to project the effect of augmenting the nation’s declining rate of imprisonment by an additional 20%. Such a policy decision, they conclude, would not lead to significantly higher crime rates. 

Read the full report [PDF].

The Opioid Epidemic and Homicide

By Joel Wallman, Richard Rosenfeld, Randolph Roth
May 2023

The twenty-five-year epidemic of opioid misuse in the United States, which has taken at least 750,000 lives through overdose, has had another lethal toll: violence associated with the street market for these drugs. In this HFG Research and Policy in Brief, Joel Wallman, Richard Rosenfeld, and Randolph Roth present the results of county-level studies that assessed the association between levels of transactions in the illicit market, measured by overdose rates, and homicide. They found that the growth in opioid abuse, arguably a reflection of growth in the illicit market, exerted upward pressure on homicide rates in both the U.S. Black and White populations, but especially in the latter and especially in Appalachia.

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Is Bail Reform Causing an Increase in Crime?

By Don Stemen and David Olson
January 2023

As jurisdictions throughout the U.S. consider reducing or eliminating the use of pretrial detention and cash bail, criminologists Don Stemen and David Olson of Loyola University Chicago examine whether crime has increased in places that have implemented bail reforms since 2017.

In Is Bail Reform Causing an Increase in Crime?, the authors examine eleven jurisdictions that constrained or ended use of these long-established practices and found “no clear or obvious pattern” connecting bail reforms and violent crime. 

They conclude that “reducing pretrial detention and eliminating money considerations from decisions about detention have had minimal negative effects on public safety” and that, considering the harmful effects of pretrial detention on defendants, bail reforms might, in fact, “improve the well-being of communities most impacted by crime.”

International Sanctions against Violent Actors

By Dursun Peksen
November 2022

In International Sanctions against Violent Actors, Dursun Peksen, Professor of Political Science at the University of Memphis, examines the extent to which international sanctions affect political violence committed by state and nonstate actors in sanctioned countries. In this research synthesis, he observes that sanctions are effective only about 30 percent of the time and are likely to create incentives for targeted governments to employ repressive means against their citizenry and rival groups. Sanctions are most likely to succeed when focused on the military capability of one or more parties to a civil war, Peksen concludes. Paired with other forms of intervention, sanctions can amplify the pressure on targeted actors and contribute to peace and stability.

Projecting Florida Crime Rates and the Impact of Prison Population Reductions

By James Austin, Richard Rosenfeld and Todd Clear
January 2021

Florida has benefited from the national drop in crime that began in the early 1990s. Its growth in incarceration also paralleled the steady national imprisonment rise of the last forty-five years. Florida’s rate peaked around 2010 and has been declining ever since. Policy makers would benefit from defensible projections of future trends in crime, and especially from estimates of the effect that further reductions in the number of people in jail and prison might have on those trends. The authors of this study developed quantitative models—explained here in non-technical language—of the effects of various demographic and economic factors, as well as the imprisonment rate, on Florida’s past crime rates. They then used these models to project crime trends into the 2020s, both with and without the assumption of a substantial reduction in imprisonment. 

At the Crossroads: Behind the Rise in Gun Violence in New York and Other American Cities

By Greg Berman
March 2022

HFG’s ‘At the Crossroads’ series concludes with the publication of  “Behind the Rise in Gun Violence in New York and Other American Cities,” a compilation of the twelve interviews conducted by Harry Frank Guggenheim Distinguished Fellow of Practice Greg Berman with an essay illuminating common themes and practical approaches to ending such violence.

Imagining the Next War

By The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
March 25-26, 2006

2000 Report of The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

By The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

2005 Report of The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

By The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

2010 Report of The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

By The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

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