Safety & Security
Crime in the United States
Violent Crime and Property Crime
Violent crimes occur frequently in the US, but the chance that you will need to worry about being the victim of a violent crime depends a lot on the city or even neighborhood you live in or visit. The FBI publishes an extensive report on crime in the US each year, with statistics on the number of violent criminal offenses (murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) across the nation, as well as in each state and municipality. An estimated 1,214,462 violent crimes were committed in the US in 2012, which is a slight increase (0.7%) from 2011. When wider trends are considered, however, one sees that violent crime has been steadily decreasing since the 1990s.
Property crimes declined 0.9% in 2012 when compared to the previous year. These include burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny theft such as pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, shoplifting, and bicycle theft. Most burglaries occur in private residences during daylight hours. Other common criminal offenses in the US include weapons violations, drug violations, domestic violence, forgery and counterfeiting, prostitution, and driving under the influence.
White Collar Crime
The chance of being the victim of a violent crime is relatively low in the US, with 387 violent crimes occurring per 100,000 people. White collar crimes, on the other hand, are far more prevalent and numbers are continuing to rise. There are many different types of white collar crimes, which are nonviolent and financially motivated, but they can all lead to the loss of large amounts of money by companies and individuals.
In this digital age, the number of internet fraud and scam schemes is increasing exponentially. These range from corporate fraud and hedge fund fraud to adoption scams, social security card fraud and identity theft. You should be particularly cautious about work-at-home offers that seem too good to be true, especially if they require you to pay any money up front. At best, you might find yourself out a few hundred dollars, and at worst, you may become a victim of identity theft or unwittingly become involved in illegal activity. If you fall victim to an internet fraud or scam or receive any suspicious emails, you can report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
If you are the victim of a crime or suspected of committing a crime, be sure to contact your nearest embassy or consulate for support. Carry their contact information on your person at all times.
The United States is one of the few countries that still practices capital punishment. The death penalty is regulated individually by each state, and as of 2014, it is legal in 32 states. It is almost exclusively used for people convicted of committing aggravated murder. The most common method of execution is lethal injection, although as recently as January 2013, electrocution was used to execute a death row inmate in Virginia.
Public support for capital punishment is declining in the US. The system is often criticized for being unjust, especially towards African Americans, who occupy a highly disproportionate number of seats on death row. Most of these inmates came from poor backgrounds, and could not afford their own attorney. Inmates are held on death row for an average of 15 years while appeals are filed. Many protest that their mental suffering during this long wait should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. In 2013, 39 people were executed, 16 in Texas alone, and 3,108 people were on death row across the United States.
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