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January 25, 2013 (Alabama.com)

Why is crime falling in Mobile and across the country?

Crime in Mobile has fallen rapidly over the last two decades.  But why?

Theories abound.

Law enforcement officials cite technology, new policing techniques and  the incarceration of more law breakers.

But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

For example, between 1991 and 1998, Texas increased its incarceration rate by 144 percent and saw a reduction in crime of 35 percent, according to The Sentencing Project. New York, meanwhile, increased its incarceration rate by only 25 percent but experienced a 46 percent decrease in crime. There are also problems with the time line. The explosion in the prison population had been underway for a decade before crime started to fall.

Some link the legalization of abortion to the fall in crime to the first cohort of babies born after Roe v. Wade. In states that legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade, the declines started earlier.  Economic consultant Rick Nevin alleges that high levels of lead in the environment impacted the mental health and impulse control of young children who came of the age in their twenties when criminality is at its highest, just as crime peaked in the 90s.

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Felony Disenfranchisement, Collateral Consequences