HARRISBURG – Department of Corrections Sec. John Wetzel on Tuesday released an infographic report, Crimelines, highlighting the significant drop in crime over the past 20 years in Pennsylvania.
According to data from the FBI, crime rates, including those for violent crime, have consistently dropped over the past 20 years, and crime rates in Pennsylvania have remained consistently lower than the rest of the nation.
“This is excellent news for Pennsylvania,” said Wetzel. “In addition to this positive news on crime trends, it comes while the state prison population is shrinking at a record rate.
“During this time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down certain mandatory minimum sentencing laws – evidence that the absence of mandatory minimums does not lead to an increase in crime.”
Crime has consistently dropped in Pennsylvania under multiple administrations, with the openings and closings of prison facilities, after the passage of various criminal justice legislative reforms, and in the absence of many mandatory minimum sentencing laws. From 2012 through 2018, crime and prison population dropped in tandem.
“I asked my staff to put this infographic report together so we could easily tell the story of crime rates and the prison population in Pennsylvania over the past 20 years according to the data and facts,” Wetzel said. “I was amazed to learn from this report that crime dropped by 45 percent during those two decades.”
Crime also dropped for a variety of specific crime types, including violent crime and property crime. Murder and rape are two exceptions with increases in recent years in Pennsylvania, although both in large part mirror national trends. It’s noted that in the case of rape, it also reflects a change in the FBI definition for reporting.
“The historic decline in crime rates demonstrates that common-sense criminal justice reforms work and reinforces the evidence for expanding reforms while ensuring the safety of all citizens,” said Wetzel.