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Monday, October 17, 2005

CRIME and ABORTION - Part 1 of a 5-Part Series

The U.S. Crime reports issued recently have got us patting ourselves on the back, citing no change over last year’s rate. More seemingly good news abounds:
Since 1993, violent crime as measured by victim surveys has fallen by 57 percent and property crime by 50 percent. That has included a 9 percent drop in violent crime from 2001-2002 to 2003-2004. The 2004 violent crime rate - assault, sexual assault and armed robbery - was 21.4 victims for every 1,000 people age 12 and older. That amounts to about one violent crime victim for every 47 U.S. residents.
Still others give full or partial credit to legalized abortion for reduced crime since 1991.

The truth is that some details are misreported, misexplained, misread and/or misanalyzed.

I. MISREPORTED

The above numbers come from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (DOJ/BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and do not include sexual assault but do include rapes: "Note: The violent crimes included are rape, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and homicide" and "Rape does not include sexual assault." And although the DOJ/BJS report states this includes homicide, CNN and other news sources reported that "Murder is not counted because the bureau's study is based on statements by crime victims."

A closer look at victimization data proves murder cannot be counted accurately in this number. For 31 years from 1973 to 2004 there is the same, highly irregular "0.1" homicide number "per 1,000 population age 12 and over?" Hardly likely. For example, in 1973, the U.S. Census counted 171.3 million people 12 and older. That DOJ/BJS chart would peg the murder count at 17,130 then (171.3 million / 1,000 x 0.1) against the total population of 213,853,928, for a murder rate of 8 per 100,000. But the National Center for Health Statistics (p. 39) indicates the 1973 murder rate was almost 10 per 100,000, and the DOJ/BJS shows the 1973 population at only 209.85 million, the murder count at 19,640 and the rate 9.4 per 100,000.

II. MISEXPLAINED

Potato, Potahto
There are key differences between the FBI's UCRs and the DOJ’s NCVS "household survey." The UCR, begun in 1929, is based on police data including individual incident records, all rolled up to the FBI either directly or via centralized state agencies, giving crime data for the entire country. The Justice Department's NCVS, only started in 1973, forty-four years after the UCR, extrapolates data from annual "interviews with about 150,000 people at least 12 years old." The same households are surveyed for three years.

An example: the DOJ/BJS reported a violent crime rate in 2003 of 475 per 100,000 population. The 2003 FBI UCR reported that it was 504.8 per 100,000. The media seems to like quoting the lower number (typically BJS') as it did again this past month.

UCRs aim to give "a reliable set of criminal justice statistics" (though they exclude sexual and simple assaults). The NCVS includes crimes not reported to police but excludes sexual assaults, murders, "arson, commercial crimes, and crimes against children under age 12."

Thus the Associated Press, CNN, et. al. last month reported NCVS numbers which exclude many of the most "violent crimes." Perhaps these reports don't reflect the true violent crime status, after all.

Mark A.R. Kleiman, crime control policy expert and UCLA professor, thinks so:
Kleiman said the victim survey probably does not take sufficient account of a growing problem with gang violence that has been widely reported across the country. The leveling off of the crime rate also should be viewed as disappointing, he said. "My sense is that complacency is not justified. This rate means we're down to about twice the level of crime when I was growing up in the 1950s," he said.
First, Apples; Now, Oranges
The NCVS only queries people 12 and older. The FBI UCR appears to attempt to compare crime numbers with total population. So what happens when we do that as well?

The opening sentence in the FBI's "Uniform Crime Report 2004 – Preliminary" reads,
The number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement agencies in the United States decreased 1.7 percent in 2004 when compared to 2003 data.
It did not say "the rate of crime decreased 1.7 percent." Rate and number are two distinct statistics. Also, the FBI does not receive data for every crime reported, but only from agencies which report.

There were 1,381,259 violent crimes in 2003 (for the 290,809,777 U.S. population), according to FBI "Table 1 - Crime in the Unites States, by Volume and Rate, 1984 - 2003, UCR Crime in the United States – 2003." This was also shown by the 2003 DOJ/BJS report, "Reported crime in United States-Total."

A 1.7 percent decrease equals 1,357,777 total reported violent crimes for the reporting agencies covering a 2004 population of 258 million. But the actual 2004 US Census population was 293,655,404.

If there were 1.36 million violent crimes reported by law enforcement agencies covering only 258 million people, then among the total 293.7 million, there could have been 1,545,413 crimes. The preliminary 2004 violent crime rate actually could be 526.3 per 100,000 population, a 10.8 percent increase from BJS' 2003 rate of 475 per 100,000. Compared to the FBI/UCR reported rate of 504.8, it's still 4.2 percent higher than reported.

Instead of a reported 5.3 percent decline (from 2003's 22.6 victims per 1,000 older than 11, down to 2004’s 21.4, as reported), 2004's violent crime rate actually could have jumped 4.2 percent or 10.8 percent.

Was this truth misreported or just misunderstood? If the media misunderstood it, it stands to reason we the public surely did.

Also, last month's reports did not refer to "crime rate per 100,000" as they once did, but labeled DOJ/BJS figures "the nation’s crime rate," never alluding to the competing, more accurate FBI/UCR rate. Nor did sources or media provide a means to compare the 76-year-old FBI-standard crime rate definition ("per 100,000 population")—also used by the BJS—with the newer, 32-year-old NCVS "numbers of victims for every 1,000 people aged 12 and older." Rather impossible for the average newspaper reader to decipher and make true comparisons, isn't it?

Either news media don't bother to understand and misreport, think they already do understand and misexplain, or they do understand and selectively spin. Take your pick.

Eeeny, Meeny and Miny
How accurate are the FBI and DOJ/BJS when using population numbers to figure crime statistics?

The DOJ reported that "In 2003, law enforcement agencies active in the UCR Program represented approximately 291 million U.S. inhabitants—93.0 percent of the total population." That would mean the total population in 2003 was actually 313 million.

But the FBI's 2003 UCR showed a population of 252,996,723 (with 12,492 agencies reporting; Table 12), or only 81 percent of 313 million.

It gets worse: the U.S. Census lists 2003's total population at 290,809,777. The 2003 FBI UCR crime statistics would represent only 87 percent of this total.

Who's right? Our blind acceptance of numbers we read and hear in the news media reminds me of comedian/actor Bob Saget's old joke:
It’s true! I read it!…I wrote it down…and then I read it!
Let's choose the U.S. Census. The FBI/UCR does, although it "adjusts population figures for individual jurisdictions in noncensus years."

Was 2004 any more accurate? The Census estimates 2004's U.S. population at 293,655,404. But FBI/BJS' preliminary UCR 2004 US population of 258,000,968 (with 12,715 agencies reporting) covers only 87.9 percent of that total.

The point? Crime stats reported as cast in stone can be missing reports on some portion of actual crime—perhaps 12-13 percent in each of the prior two years, even using the probably more reliable UCR.


Tomorrow's segment covers how we the people easily misread what is reported as well as some of the misanalysis of the "abortion lowers crime" theory, including how old and how racist some of Steven Levitt's (Freakonomics) conclusions really are. And you thought William Bennett was bad.

Links to all segments found here.
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NATIONAL REVIEW Online's The Corner ~ Kathryn Jean Lopez links to Ap blog, 1/22/07

Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: Banno On Boxer and the Illegal Abortion Deaths Urban Legend

San Diego Union Tribune: more Boxer Urban-Legend-Debunk coverage

Ellen Goodman retraction impetus: Aa blog initiates The Straight Dope coverage...and is listed in National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru's book The Party of Death, p. 255, Chap. 3 Endnote #11,   4/2006

NY Daily News: "Atheist's Site Is All The Rave

"After Abortion,...run by Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, two women who had abortions in the 1970s, ...tries to avoid the political tug-of-war that tends to come with this turf. They concentrate instead on discussing the troubling personal effects of abortion on the mothers." ~ Eric Scheske, Godspy contributing editor, in NC Register's "Signs of Life in the Blogosphere", 2/2006

"Godbloggers could, in the best of worlds, become the new apologists...[including] laymen with day jobs: Emily Peterson and Annie Banno, for instance, at the blog After Abortion..."~ Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard online editor, in First Things's "God on the Internet", 12/2005

Amy Welborn, at BeliefNet, links to AfterAbortion blog's Crime & Abortion Series

Catholic News Service: Silent counterprotest at the March For Choice



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George & Linda Zallie, Stacy's parents, "assisting women who made the difficult choice of ending their pregnancy in finding nonjudgmental help" for suicidal feelings.

For immediate help, call tollfree, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: national, confidential, post-abortion-recovery hotlines:
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AbortionChangesYou.com

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion...[many are] aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and [do] not doubt that it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace...You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child..."

MORE HELP:
Hope after Abortion
Ideas for Healing
Rachel's Vineyard Retreats
(non-Christians, even non-religious do attend; they also have interdenominational retreats designed expressly for people of any religion or no religion)
Abortion Recovery
"Entering Canaan" - a ministry of reverence for women and men who suffer following an abortion
Lumina - Hope & Healing After Abortion
Ramah
Option Line
Books that help
(includes non-religious Post Abortion recovery books)
In Our Midst
NOPARH
For MEN - Resources List
     ** UPDATED 2015 **

Message boards, chat rooms &
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Regional & local resources
         ** UPDATED 2015 **


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Obama On Abortion: A Summary 1990-2009

1) Obama Is 2nd-Highest-Paid Politician by Fannie Mae, Taking $126,346 in only 4 years as Senator; Now Derides GOP/Bush for Allowing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac To Do Business, When It Was Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter Who Passed The Law Requiring Fannie & Freddie To Give Out Bad Subprime Loans To Those Who Couldn't Afford Them, Which Caused The Entire Financial Meltdown … 2) Jim Johnson (Obama VEEP vetter and former Fannie Mae executive who made millions there) Backpedal … 3) Obama's hiring, connection, support of ACORN, which supported that very law and whose staff have been involved in voter fraud … 4) Rezko's Favor A "Boneheaded" Mistake … 5) Jeremiah Wright Backpedal … 6) Fr. Michael Fleger Backpedal … 7) NAFTA Backpedal … 8) Campaign Financing Backpedal … 9) Mr. "Negotiates-With-Terrorist-States" … 10) Bittergate … 11) Hamas' Chief Political Adviser Hopes BO Will Win Election … 12) Banning Handguns Backpedal … 13) Who Exactly Are "The Rich" He's Going to Sock it to? … 14) Flag Pin Backpedal … 15) Once Open to School Vouchers That Work, Now Deadset Against … 16) Now OK with residual force in Iraq...up to 50,000 troops. … 17) First voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure, then lied saying he didn't, then finally forced to admit that he did vote to deny such born babies protection. 18) … "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." ~ MO

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