October 24, 2007

Crime rates: Disconnect between perception and reality

U.S. crime rates have leveled off at the lowest rates in recorded history, yet the public continues to think that crime is on the rise. So say the folks at Gallup, reporting on their latest poll. Check out these graphs.

First the public perception:

Now the reality (violent crime and property crime):

What's responsible for the profound disconnect between perception and reality? Over at Grits for Breakfast, they're saying the cause can be summed up in five words: "If it bleeds, it leads."

There's more to it than that, of course. Opportunistic politicians playing on fear of crime as a sure-fire way to get votes comes to mind. But the nightly newscast definitely deserves its share of the blame.