The Department of Justice reports that violent crime rates are down six percent nationally, while property crimes have dropped 2.7 percent.

In Texas, the estimated number of violent crime incidents dropped from 121,668 in 2009, a rate of 490.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, to 113,231 in 2010, a rate of only 450.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Violent crime victimization — an aggregate of self-reported information, which includes crimes reported to law enforcement and unreported crimes — is also down 13% in 2010. A drop in simple assault–generally defined as contact that is offensive, but not intended to cause injury–contributed to 82% of that decrease

Criminologists and experts are attempting to explain why crime is dropping, with little consensus. The traditional explanations (a connection between employment and crime, government service levels, and the economy’s weakness generally) clearly do not apply in recent years.   Some experts are so baffled that they have made truly bizarre suggestions – like the idea that positive feelings sparked by the election of President Obama have inspired people not to commit crimes.  (No, seriously – some people are really suggesting this.)

It is worth noting that this drop in crime comes after the first decrease in almost 30 years in state prison populations in 2009.  It was a drop of only 0.2%, and it was offset by a 3.4% increase in the federal population—but nonetheless notable considering the continually falling crime rates. The bottom line is that it is becoming difficult to argue that decreases in crime are entirely a result of increases in incarceration.