Crime & Safety in the U.S.
Navigating the Perception & The Reality
One of the chief considerations to take into account when relocating is how safe a country is. Although there is often a lot of reporting in U.S and worldwide media about America’s perceived problem with crime and violence, it’s actually much safer than many people believe it to be. America is ranked 51st in the world ranking of safest countries, which is in the top third. America also has one of the
Here’s a closer look at the reality of crime in the U.S. and the measures that are in place to keep you and your family safe.
On This Page
- Crime Rates & Types in the U.S.
- Violent Crime and Property Crime
- White Collar Crime
- Law Enforcement in the U.S.
- Incarceration & Capital Punishment
- Public Perceptions of Crime
- Gun Violence & Terrorism
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about taxes, company formaition, and residency in the U.S.
- Get advice on taxation, company formation, and residency in the U.S.
Crime, as you might expect, varies amongst different states, and within different areas inside each state. FBI data shows that in 2016 for example, there were more than 600 violent crimes per resident in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee. However Main, New Hampshire and Vermont had rates below 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Various factors may affect crime in different areas, such as population density, economic conditions and access to education.
The violent crime rate is higher in the U.S. than in many other countries, however the chances that you will be affected really depends on where you travel to. Most of the incidents of violent crime are gang-related and often occur in inner city areas.
Violent crime on the whole has fallen dramatically over the last 25 years, since its peak in the early 1990s.
Property crime includes all instances of theft of unlawful destruction of property (minus force or threat of force against a victim). Property crimes are also on the decrease. Nearly 8 million cases of property theft were reported in 2017, down from just over 12.5 million in 1990. Of the types of property theft in the U.S larceny-theft is the most common with 5.5 million reported cases in 2017. This type of theft is different to robbery as it does not include the use of force or threat of force.
Larceny on the other hand is taking property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use of that property. Therefore, larceny is considered, to be less serious than robbery.
While your chances of being a victim of violent crime or another type of crime such as larceny are relatively low in the U.S., white collar crime is more common. White collar crime is non-violent and financially motivated crime and might include fraud, identity theft or other types of scams. Fraud and other types of white collar crime cost U.S. organizations more than $400 billion every year.
Although the risks from white collar crime are not considered as serious as many other types of crime, to put it into perspective the average amount that is taken during an armed robbery of a bank is $3,137. On the other hand, computer-based white collar crime might bring in losses as high as $500,000.
White collar criminal prosecutions have been on the decrease in recent years. The rate of prosecutions and convictions was at its lowest in 22 years in 2017, with around 6,000 Federal white-collar criminal prosecutions, a 46% drop since 1995. One reasons for this might be because of FBI diverted resources and attention towards other types of crime (such as terrorism threats). This trend is being picked up by commentators and new sources, but it remains to be seen whether it will be reversed in the coming years.
Internet scams and frauds are on the increase worldwide. Always ensure you have the best internet security possible for your business and personal dealings, and keep yourself informed about common scams that crop up, especially as they relate to bank accounts and online financial transactions.
Each state has its own local and state police force. Some counties or larger cities also have their own sheriffs or county departments. These forces conduct patrols, enforce traffic laws, respond to emergency calls and carry out criminal investigations.
There are also law enforcement agencies that work on the Federal level and prosecute criminal activity as well as deal with threats to citizens from both within and without the U.S. These agencies include the FBI, the National Security Agency, The Central Intelligence Agency and The Department of Homeland Security.
The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, and within it has two agencies that may be relevant to you as an international entrepreneur – Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS overseas all lawful immigration to the U.S. You can visit their website here.
The U.S. is known for its tough penal system. Although the U.S. only has 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s prisoners, with an incarcerated population of around 2.4 million. This is an increase of 500% over the last 30 years. By the end of 2017 1 in 31 adults was either incarcerated, on probation or on parole.
One of the reasons for this high rate of incarceration is Americas tough drug laws. In 2017 there are more people behind bars for a drugs offense than there were prisoners overall in 1980, a staggering figure. A first time drug offence in America can carry a sentence of 5-10 years imprisonment.
The U.S. also practices capital punishment in some states. It’s regulated individually by each state and was legal in 30 states in 2017. Capital punishment is almost only ever meted out as a punishment for aggravated murder and the most common method of execution is lethal injection.
Overall, public support for capital punishment is in decline. Many members of the public hold concerns about the justification of the punishment, as well as the high rate of African-Americans who are on death row. There is also a long wait for the punishment to be carried out in most cases, with many inmates waiting an average of 15 years while the appeals process is exhausted. Many people consider this to be a cruel and unusual punishment because of the suffering associated with such a long wait.
Perhaps because of the tough prison sentences in America and the effects of mass media reporting on violent incidents, it appears that the public perception of crime in the U.S is out of step with reality. In opinion surveys, a majority of Americans regularly say that they believe there’s more crime compared to the previous year, despite the year-on-year drop in the crime rate overall.
In 2016, 57% of voters told Pew Research Center that crime has gotten worse since 2008, even though the statistics show that violent and property crime has reduced by double digits during that period. One reason for these perceptions could be that they are based on previous higher levels of crime and the role of the media. There was a peak of violent crime in the 1990s, followed by the attacks of 2001, which greatly affected the public’s overall psyche regarding threat in a negative way.
Being caught up in gun violence of a terrorist attack are two situations that receive a lot of media attention and coverage. While it is true that America has suffered from both terrorist attacks and mass-shootings, it’s also true that the threat from both of these scenarios is much smaller than many people think. For an in-depth discussion on gun-violence truth and lies, please [click here].
When it comes to terrorist attacks, America has actually had very few terrorism-related fatalities since the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001.
The attacks on the Twin Towers, which resulted in more than 2,500 civilian deaths were tragic and have shaped American wariness of future attacks. However, since the attacks airline security has become much more stringent. There have been terrorism related incidents in the years since 9 11, but overall the fatality rate is extremely low – less than 200 people. There has also never been another successful terror attack on U.S. soil by a foreign terrorist organization since 2001.
Overall, your chances of being a victim of a terrorist attack in the U.S. is exceptionally low.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Taxes, Company Formation, and Residency in the U.S.
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