Is the criminal justice system working? Is the country getting safer?
Crime and justice
Violent crime fell by 1.7% in 2021 after growing by 4.6% in 2020. Property crime fell for the second year in a row in 2021 by 4.5%.
Despite the overall decrease in violent crime, the homicide rate rose again in 2021 after a historic increase in 2020. In 2021, the FBI switched its crime data collection to a system that counts all crimes committed during an incident, as opposed to only requiring counting the most severe crime.
Law enforcement cleared 16% of reported Part I crimes in 2021 — meaning an arrest was made or exceptional circumstances, such as the death of the offender, prevented arrest.
Part I crimes are serious, occur across the country, and are likely to be reported to law enforcement. Murders had the highest clearance rate at 48%, while motor vehicle theft had the lowest at 10%. Clearance rates should not be compared across years due to varying law enforcement agency response rates.
Until law enforcement participation in data collection reaches 80%, the FBI has limited the use-of-force data it makes available. Partial 2022 data shows that 66% of officers work for agencies that reported use-of-force data. The most common use-of-force incidents involved a firearm; hands, fists, or feet; or a taser.
Crime and justice
More than 5.5 million people were in prison, jail, or on probation or parole in 2020.
The prison population per 100,000 people declined for the 14th year in a row in 2021, while the jail population rose after a decline in 2020. Probation and parole data is not yet available for 2021.
The share of prisoners whose most serious offense, as defined by the FBI, is a drug crime has declined annually since 2007.
The share dropped 7.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2020. Drug crimes dropped from being the most common reason for incarceration in 2019 to the fourth-most in 2020, after rape and sexual assault, murder, and aggravated and simple assault.