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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 11


Additional  Strong Communities, Culture & Recreation Indicators

11 - Crime Rate

12 - Open Space

Crime Rate

Number of reported violent and non-violent crimes per 1,000 people in New Jersey: Recently decreasing

  Things to think about 

New Jersey crime rates vary greatly between communities.

Crime, or a perceived lack of safety, is among the reasons cited by New Jerseyans for not wanting to live or do business in inner city areas.

 

Importance

What could be a more striking measure of a healthy society than the rate at which its citizens commit crimes against each other? Crime’s impact does not stop with stolen property, lost health, or fear – it encompasses the host of social issues that feed it, such as unemployment and poverty. Fortunately, our crime rate has been falling. It is now at its lowest level since the mid-1970s.

Economic

Economic stagnation and desperation contribute to high crime rates that chase people from inner city neighborhoods that might otherwise be home to productive businesses and families. It is a vicious cycle that fights back against the people who try to break it. Meanwhile, people are forced to spend their money on alarm systems, law enforcement, and prisons.

Environmental

When people abandon city centers, they cause new sprawl in suburban and rural areas. "In-fill," or redevelopment of existing cities, would spare environmental resources, but crime discourages people from undertaking this kind of renovation. Money and resources spent fighting crime divert resources away from other priorities such as protecting our environment.

Social

Crime is an indicator of other deep social and economic problems. It can reflect lack of opportunities, inadequate education, and feelings of hopelessness. It is a strong, leading indicator of economic stagnation, a shortage of well-trained workers, and other problems that may await us in the future.

Knowledge Gaps

Data from the Uniform Crime Statistics capture only crimes that have been reported. If minor crimes become commonplace, or if people are scared or embarrassed to report crimes such as rape, the reported crime rate could be misleading. It would be desirable to have information, perhaps survey data, on the percent of crimes that are reported.

Data Source: NJ Division of State Police

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 26, 2007

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