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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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MODERNIZING
CRIME STATISTICS

Report 1–Defining and Classifying Crime

Panel on Modernizing the Nation’s Crime Statistics

Janet L. Lauritsen and Daniel L. Cork, Editors

Committee on National Statistics
Committee on Law and Justice

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS500 Fifth Street, NWWashington, DC 20001

The project that is the subject of this report was supported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, via a grant from the National Science Foundation (No. SES-1024012) that permits a consortium of federal agencies to support the work of the Committee on National Statistics. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-44109-4
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Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/23492

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Modernizing Crime Statistics—Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/23492.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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PANEL ON MODERNIZING THE NATION’S CRIME STATISTICS

JANET L. LAURITSEN,* (Chair), Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri–St. Louis

DANIEL B. BIBEL, Crime Reporting Unit, Massachusetts State Police, Maynard (retired)

JONATHAN P. CAULKINS, H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University

KIM ENGLISH, Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety

ROBERT M. GOERGE, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

NOLA M. JOYCE, Philadelphia Police Department (retired)

DAVID MCDOWALL, Violence Research Group, University at Albany, State University of New York

JENNIFER H. MADANS, National Center for Health Statistics

MICHAEL D. MALTZ, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago (emeritus) and Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University

MICHAEL C. MILLER, Coral Gables Police Department, Florida

JAMES J. NOLAN, III, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, West Virginia University

AMY O’HARA, Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications, U.S. Census Bureau

JOHN V. PEPPER, Department of Economics, University of Virginia

ALEX R. PIQUERO, School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

JEFFREY L. SEDGWICK, Justice Research and Statistics Association, Washington, DC

JAMES P. LYNCH, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland (Consultant to the panel)

PAUL K. WORMELI, Wormeli Consulting, LLC, Ashburn, Virginia (Liaison from Committee on Law and Justice)

DANIEL L. CORK, Study Director

SETH HAUSER, Senior Program Officer (February–October 2015)

EDWARD SPAR, Senior Program Officer (through September 2014)

MICHAEL SIRI, Program Associate

__________________

*Served as member of the panel from formation through December 8, 2014.

Served as chair of the panel from formation through December 8, 2014, following appointment as executive director of the Justice Research and Statistics Association.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
2016

LAWRENCE D. BROWN (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

JOHN M. ABOWD, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

FRANCINE BLAU, Department of Economics, Cornell University

MARY ELLEN BOCK, Department of Statistics, Purdue University

MICHAEL CHERNEW, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

DONALD A. DILLMAN, Department of Sociology, Washington State University

CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University

JAMES S. HOUSE, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

MICHAEL HOUT, Department of Sociology, New York University

THOMAS L. MESENBOURG, Retired; formerly, U.S. Census Bureau

SUSAN A. MURPHY, Department of Statistics, University of Michigan

SARAH M. NUSSER, Department of Statistics, Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology, Iowa State University

COLM A. O’MUIRCHEARTAIGH, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, and NORC at the University of Chicago

RUTH D. PETERSON, Criminal Justice Research Center and Department of Sociology, Ohio State University (emerita)

ROBERTO RIGOBON, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Columbia University and Arizona State University

CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director

BRIAN HARRIS-KOJETIN, Deputy Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
×

COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE
2016

JEREMY TRAVIS (Chair), John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York

RUTH D. PETERSON (Vice-chair), Criminal Justice Research Center and Department of Sociology, Ohio State University (emerita)

CARL C. BELL, Department of Psychiatry and School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

JOHN J. DONOHUE III, Stanford Law School, Stanford University

MINDY FULLILOVE, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

MARK KLEIMAN, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles

GARY LAFREE, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

JANET L. LAURITSEN, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri–St. Louis

JAMES P. LYNCH, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

DANIEL S. NAGIN, H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University

ANNE MORRISON PIEHL, Department of Economics and Program in Criminal Justice, Rutgers University

DANIEL B. PRIETO, Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Program, Office of the U.S. Department of Defense Chief Information Officer

STEVEN RAPHAEL, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

LAURIE ROBINSON, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

SUSAN B. SORENSON, School of Sociology and Process, University of Pennsylvania

BRUCE WESTERN, Department of Sociology and Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard University

CATHY SPATZ WIDOM, Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York

PAUL K. WORMELI, Wormeli Consulting, LLC, Ashburn, Virginia

KATHI GRASSO, Director

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Acknowledgments

THE PANEL ON MODERNIZING THE NATION’S CRIME STATISTICS is pleased to submit this first report on the classification of crime—an important first step in modernizing the collection of data on “crime in the United States”—and greatly appreciates the time and talent of those who have contributed to the panel’s work.

Both of our sponsoring agencies—the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—committed considerable resources and attention to our study, for which we are greatly appreciative. BJS director William Sabol and deputy director Gerard Ramker provided constant support; we owe much to senior statistical advisor Allen Beck for his discussions of his participation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) expert work group on crime classification; and we thank the other BJS staff who gave unyieldingly of their time, including Howard Snyder, Michael Planty, and Erica Smith. At CJIS, Amy Blasher provided valuable assistance and liaison to our panel as Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program manager and Crime Statistics Management unit chief. Michelle Klimt was instrumental in the creation of this project during her time as chief of the CJIS Law Enforcement Support Section, and John Derbas has continued to provide assistance. We have also benefited from extensive interaction with statisticians James Noonan and Cynthia Barnett-Ryan. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget provided the essential encouragement for BJS and FBI to jointly sponsor this review; we are particularly grateful to Rochelle Martinez and the Statistical and Science Policy Office.

As we describe in detail in this report, we owe a great debt to the work of a UNODC expert work group established to draft an International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes. Angela Me, chief of the UNODC’s Research and Trend Analysis Branch, traveled to speak to our panel in person at our

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
×

second meeting, and Michael Jandl (research officer in the Statistics and Survey Division) graciously stepped in on short notice to give a brief overview of the UNODC work by teleconference at our first meeting. We particularly appreciate Me’s invitation to panel staff to participate in the UNODC work group’s final pre-release meeting in May 2014 in Vienna.

Our gratitude is principally due to too many people to list in this space—so, in fact, we list them in Appendix B in the back matter of this report. That appendix carries with it a generic “Participant” list title, but we certainly intend for it to read as an extension of these acknowledgments. We benefited greatly from the thoughtful contributions of the wide array of experts and stakeholders who accepted our invitations to discuss issues with the panel, most through the workshop-style sessions we convened in summer 2014. We thank them again.

At our first meeting, we invited our sponsors to provide their own perspectives on the panel’s work and its charge, and we also extended an invitation to several relevant professional organizations to do the same. This offer was accepted by John Firman, research director for the International Association of Chiefs of Police; Mary Beth Lombardo, research associate, on behalf of Bruce Kubu of the Police Executive Research Forum; and Stan Orchowsky, research director of the Justice Research and Statistics Association. We greatly appreciate their comments in launching our panel’s work.

At the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Michael Siri provided expert and always considerate assistance in managing the logistics of this very active study panel. For a little over six critical months in 2015, the panel had the invaluable assistance of Seth Hauser, who took to a short-term assignment as senior program officer with gusto and deftly constructed the agenda for two of our panel meetings. In the first year of the panel’s work, Edward Spar assisted with the identification of candidates for participation in our workshop-style sessions, and more recently program officer Jordyn White has assisted with our proceedings. Daniel Cork served as study director for this project and deserves special recognition. His skills for incorporating large amounts of technical and organizational data on crime statistics with insights from data users, providers, and panel members were inimitable and invaluable to the writing of this report.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Thomas Abt,

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Lynn A. Addington, Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology, American University; John J. Donohue, III, Stanford Law School, Stanford University; Fiona Dowsley, Chief Statistician, Crime Statistics Agency, Melbourne; Stephen E. Fienberg, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University; Jeff Godown, Chief of Police, Oakland Unified School District Police Department; Ruth D. Peterson, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University; Max Schleuter, The Crime Research Group of Vermont, Montpelier, VT; and Malcolm K. Sparrow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Alfred Blumstein, The H. John Heinz III College of Public Policy and Information Systems, Carnegie Mellon University, and Philip J. Cook, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University. Appointed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Janet L. Lauritsen, Chair
Panel on Modernizing the Nation’s Crime Statistics

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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2.3.2 National Self-Report Surveys

2.3.3 National Administrative Surveys or Records-Based Collections

2.3.4 Public Health Data Resources

2.4 Recent and Concurrent Efforts at Improvement

3 Users (and Uses) of Crime Statistics

3.1 Law Enforcement Agencies

3.2 Federal, State, and Local Policy Makers

3.2.1 State Statistical Analysis Centers

3.2.2 Legislative Uses

3.2.3 Justice Assistance and Fund Allocation

3.2.4 Program Evaluation Entities

3.3 Public Sector and Academic Researchers

3.3.1 Academic Researchers

3.3.2 Policy Advocacy and Issue Constituencies

3.4 Business Sector

3.5 News Media and the Public

3.6 Conclusions

4 Historical and Extant Classifications of Crime

4.1 Previous Implementations of, and Proposals for, a Modern Crime Classification

4.1.1 PERF and the Simplified Victim-Outcome Framework

4.1.2 SEARCH and the Pure Attribute-Based Classification

4.1.3 Australia and New Zealand

4.1.4 Ireland

4.1.5 International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes

5 Proposed Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes

5.1 Objectives for a Modern Crime Classification

5.1.1 Design Principles

5.1.2 Objectives of Crime Classification

5.2 Recommended Classification of Crime

5.2.1 Suggested Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (Short Version)

5.2.2 Provisional Set of Attributes or Tags to Accompany Proposed Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes

5.2.3 Changes and Deviations from the ICCS and from Current U.S. Crime Measurement Norms

5.3 Next Steps: Issues Going Forward

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23492.
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To derive statistics about crime – to estimate its levels and trends, assess its costs to and impacts on society, and inform law enforcement approaches to prevent it – a conceptual framework for defining and thinking about crime is virtually a prerequisite. Developing and maintaining such a framework is no easy task, because the mechanics of crime are ever evolving and shifting: tied to shifts and development in technology, society, and legislation.

Interest in understanding crime surged in the 1920s, which proved to be a pivotal decade for the collection of nationwide crime statistics. Now established as a permanent agency, the Census Bureau commissioned the drafting of a manual for preparing crime statistics—intended for use by the police, corrections departments, and courts alike. The new manual sought to solve a perennial problem by suggesting a standard taxonomy of crime. Shortly after the Census Bureau issued its manual, the International Association of Chiefs of Police in convention adopted a resolution to create a Committee on Uniform Crime Records —to begin the process of describing what a national system of data on crimes known to the police might look like.

The key distinction between the rigorous classification proposed in this report and the “classifications” that have come before in U.S. crime statistics is that it is intended to partition the entirety of behaviors that could be considered criminal offenses into mutually exclusive categories. Modernizing Crime Statistics: Report 1: Defining and Classifying Crime assesses and makes recommendations for the development of a modern set of crime measures in the United States and the best means for obtaining them. This first report develops a new classification of crime by weighing various perspectives on how crime should be defined and organized with the needs and demands of the full array of crime data users and stakeholders.

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