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6 Alaska Just. F. 1 (1989-1990)

handle is hein.journals/aljufor6 and id is 1 raw text is: ALASKA JUSTICE FORUM
A Publication of the                                            Alaska Justice
Justice Centel                                              Statistica   Anacilysis Unit
Spring 1989          UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE            Vol.6, No.1
Offense-Specific Crime Trends in Alaska -
1963 to 1987

- David L. Parry
This is the second of two articles
employing computerized crime-
reporting data obtained from the FBI
to examine crime trends in Alaska.
The first article (Alaska Crime
Trends - 1963 to 1987) discussed the
origin and history of the FBI's
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)
Program, highlighted some of the
pitfalls inherent in using UCR data
to examine crime-related issues and
critically examined trends in the
number and rate of index crimes (i.e.,
murder     and    non-negligent
manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery,
aggravated assault, burglary,
larceny/theft and motor vehicle theft)
reported annually to the FBI by
Alaska law enforcement agencies.
The present article focuses on
statewide trends for each of the seven
offenses included in the FBI's crime
index throughout the twenty-five
year period for which data are
available. (Arson, which became the
eighth index offense in 1979, is not
included in this analysis.)
As reported in the first article,
* Lawyers and government
officials questioned for
advice by residents of rural
Alaska villages face a com-
plex ethical situation (p. 3).
* The Bureau of Justice
Statistics examines pris-
oner populations through-
out the nation in 1988 (p. 2).

UCR data for Alaska reveal a
pattern of steady annual increases
in the total number of reported
index offenses, broken only in 1987
- the last year for which data are
available - when the number of
offenses which were reported was
lower than for any year since 1982.
The index crime rate (i.e., the
number of index offenses per
100,000 people in the population),
which escalated rapidly between
1963 and 1975, stopped increasing
after 1975 and remained relatively
constant until 1987, when it
dropped lower than it had been in
any year since 1974.
The present article examines the
frequencies and rates for each of the
index offenses individually in order
to determine the extent to which the
patterns observed for all offenses
combined also hold for the
individual offenses. It also investi-
gates the possibility that, for some
offenses at least, the volume of
index offenses reported in 1987,
which is significantly lower than in
any other recent year, may indicate
a more general trend toward
decreasing crime and not merely a
one-year anomaly.
Table 1 (p. 5) shows the number
of offenses in each of the index
crime categories which were
reported to the FBI by Alaska law
enforcement agencies each year
from 1963 to 1987. This table re-
veals considerable fluctuation from
year to year in the number of crimes
reported in all of the seven offense
categories, but the general pattern
is one of increasing frequency of
crimes in nearly all categories.
A somewhat different portrait of
trends in the seven offense
categories emerges when rates,

rather than frequencies, are
displayed, as shown in Table 2
(p. 6). This table presents annual
rates per 100,000 people for each
offense category. Analyzing crime
trends by looking at changes in the
rates of index offenses makes it
possible to tell whether crime is
increasing faster or slower than the
population. Although the rates for
most offenses have increased over
the years (subject, of course, to
varying amounts of random
fluctuation), the rate for one offense
- murder - has remained surpris-
ingly constant, and several
categories seem to have peaked in
the early 1980s and show slight but
unmistakable downward trends
over the last several years.
Of all the index offenses, murder
(a category which also includes non-
negligent manslaughter) has shown
the least variation over the years.
Although the number of murders
reported each year has slowly edged
upward as the population has
increased, the murder rate has
shown no such increase. The rate
for 1986 was the lowest since 1965,
and the rate shown for each of the
last four years is lower than that for
nearly half of the years prior to
Unlike murder, both the
frequency and rate of forcible rape
have undergone tremendous
increases over the past twenty-five
years. The number of rapes
reported in 1983, the year when the
most rapes were reported, was over
thirteen times greater than the
number reported in 1963, and the
rate in 1983 was about six times
greater than it was in the low years
of 1963, 1965 and 1967. Note,
Please turn to TRENDS, page 4

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