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Drop in violent crime continues in Midwest

by Tim Anderson ~ January 2012 ~ Stateline Midwest
Every year since 1992, U.S. rates of violent crime have been going down — so much so that the rate in 2010 was nearing half of what it was 20 years ago.
That trend continued during the first half of 2011, according to FBI data released in December, and no region had a sharper decline — 9.7 percent — than the Midwest. The rate is based on population size and the number of reported murders, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.
Most states in this region have violent crime rates below the national average, with the two exceptions being Illinois and Michigan. But recent gains in those two states reflect the national progress that has been
made in combating violent crime. Between 2006 and 2010, for example,
rates of violent crime decreased 19.6 percent in Illinois and 13.2 percent in Michigan.
Criminologists cite a host of potential reasons for the decline, with one common explanation being a rise in the number of people in prison. State imprisonment rates rose dramatically in the 1990s, by 62 percent, and remained relatively stable in the last decade, though many states have reported drops in the number of inmates in recent years.
Other oft-cited reasons include changes in police practices (more proactive and reliant on data to target areas prone to crime), a rise in the number of police, an aging population with relatively fewer young people, and a reduction in the use of crack cocaine.
North Dakota and Minnesota have the lowest violent crime rates in the Midwest and are among the 10 states with the lowest rates in the country. North Dakota, though, is the only state in the region where rates have risen considerably over the past two decades. The FBI data also show a rise in violent crimes in South Dakota between 2009 and 2010.