Wednesday, March 03, 2021
Distortion 1: Drug Use After Prohibition Ends
Distortion 2: Drug Use Estimates
Distortion 3: Needle Exchange
Distortion 4: Harm Reduction
Distortion 5: Methadone Treatment
Distortion 6: Emergency Room Visits
Distortion 7: Gateway
Distortion 8: Ecstasy
Distortion 9: Cannabis As Medicine
Distortion10: Young People and Drugs
Distortion 11: Marijuana Potency
Distortion 12: Cannabis and Driving
Distortion 13: US Crime Rates
Distortion 14: Cannabis and Drug Treatment
Distortion 15: People Only Smoke Pot To Get High, Whereas They Drink Alcohol To Be Sociable
Distortion 16: ONDCP's 'Open Letter on Marijuana' & the AntiDrug Media Campaign
Distortion 17: Cannabis and Drug Treatment Part II
Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness
Special: NORML's Truth Report 2005, An Analysis & Response To The Drug Czar's Open Letter About Marijuana
Special: Debunking The Myths Chronic Pain & Opiods, by Frank Fisher, MD
Distortion 19: Estimating the Size of the Illicit Drug Market
Distortion 20: Methamphetamines
Distortion 21: US Crime Rates & Arrest Rates
Distortion 22: Marijuana & Violence
Search using CSDP's own search tool or use
Crime Rates in the US Versus Other Nations
Are Crime Rates In The US Higher Or Lower?
Distortion 13: The drug war has reduced crime in the US compared with other nations.
False. This assertion is based on a comparison of reported
rates of crime in various countries, including that of the US
as reported by the FBI in its Uniform Crime Reports. The
research was performed for the UK's Home Office Research
Development & Statistics Directorate. While it is true that
the RDS performs an annual review of crime statistics data,
the comparison that Hutchinson and others try to make using these
annual reports is invalid.
According to "International Comparisons of
Criminal Justice Statistics 2000" by Gordon Barclay and
Cynthia Tavares for the RDS, dated 12 July 2002:
Source: Gordon Barclay and Cynthia Tavares, "International Comparisons of Criminal Justice Statistics 2000," UK Home Office, Research Development & Statistics Directorate, dated July 12, 2002, available online at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hosb502.pdf, last accessed Dec. 17, 2002.
The report on the other hand also notes that "Since the definition of homicide is similar in most countries, absolute comparisons of rates are possible. For the period 1998 to 2000, the average rate (the number of homicides per 100,000 population) was 1.7 in EU Member States with the highest rates in Northern Ireland (3.1), Spain (2.8) Finland (2.6), Scotland (2.2) and Sweden (2.1). The rate in England & Wales (1.5) was below the average. For the other countries, the highest rates were found in South Africa (54.3), Estonia (11.4), Lithuania (8.9), Latvia (6.5) and the USA (5.9). (p. 3)
Another source of data comparing crime rates internationally is
the International Crime Victimisation Survey, or ICVS.
According to the fourth such survey, conducted
Unfortunately the survey uses too small a sample to produce useful results. As noted in the ICVS report, a sample of only 1,000 people was used in the US survey, with a response rate of 60%. The sample for the Netherlands -- a smaller country -- was 2,001, and had a 58% response rate. (p. 17) The report itself notes that "Samples were usually of 2,000 people, which mean there is a fairly wide sampling error on the ICVS estimates. The surveys cannot, then, give precise estimates of crime in different countries." (p. 1)
At p. 24 the report notes: "The relatively small sample sizes in the ICVS mean that it is often a matter of statistical chance which country, among those with high levels, emerges with the highest rate on any particular type of crime."
The types of crimes being measured are another concern. For example, one of the 11 crimes which the ICVS asked about is bicycle theft, the prevalence of which is reported to be much higher in the Netherlands than in the US. On the other hand, according to Figure 7 on p. 48, the US ranks third in the incidence rate for "very serious" crime among the 16 developed nations surveyed, behind only first-place England & Wales and second-place Australia. Following the US in fourth place is drug-warrior nation Sweden, then the Netherlands, then Canada. The bottom four: Portugal, Denmark, Japan, then the nation with the lowest incidence of very serious crime, Finland.
Source: Van Kesteren, J.N., Mayhew, P. & Nieuwbeerta, P. (2000) Criminal Victimisation in Seventeen Industrialised Countries: Key-findings from the 2000 international Crime Victims Survey. The Hague, Ministry of Justice, WODC. Available online at http://www.unicri.it/icvs/publications/pdf_files/key2000i/index.htm.
The real crime victimization rates in the US may be much different.
Certainly, the rate at which crimes are reported to law enforcement
is much lower than that shown in the ICVS.
The US Justice Department conducts its own annual
Crime Victimization Survey (for which
"In 2001, 43,680 households and 79,950 people age 12 or older
were interviewed. For the 2000 NCVS data presented here, the
response rate was 93.0% of eligible households and 89.3% of
eligible individuals." Criminal Victimization 2001, p. 13)
According to it: