BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Crime and Justice in the United States
and in England and Wales, 1981-96

Days at risk of serving

Murder: days of incarceration Rapists: days of incarceration
Robber: days of incarceration Assaulter: days of incarceration
Burglar: days of incarceration Vehicle theft: days of incarceration

To the chart data

Notes on figures 67-72: "Days of incarceration an offender risks serving" were obtained by multiplying the probability of conviction given an offense (Notes on figures 25-30) by the probability of incarceration given conviction (Notes on figures 31-36) and by the average number of days served per incarceration sentence (Notes on figures 55-60). Incarceration is defined in Notes on figures 31-36. Fragmentary data on "time served" had to be assembled to form national estimates of "Days of incarceration an offender risks serving" in the United States. National data on "time served" were specially calculated in England for years in which crime victim surveys were conducted. "Days of incarceration an offender risks serving" in England is shown for years in which crime victim surveys were conducted. "Days of incarceration an offender risks serving" in the United States is shown for years covered in previous graphics. Crime definitions for the graphics are given in Notes on figures 5-10.

The risk of punishment an offender runs for committing a particular crime depends both on how long those who are caught typically serve for committing such a crime, and on the likelihood of being caught, convicted, and incarcerated. The two are combined in a single measure of risk called "the number of days (or months or years) of incarceration an offender risks serving."

By this measure, is the risk of punishment the same in the two countries?

  • By this measure, the risk of punishment is generally greater in the United States than in England (including Wales).

    According to the latest figures (1994 in the United States, 1995 in England) --

    • a person committing murder risked nearly 5 years of incarceration in the United States versus a little over 4 years in England (figure 67)
    • a person committing rape risked 11 months of incarceration in the United States versus 4 months in England (figure 68)
    • a person committing robbery risked 22 days of incarceration in the United States versus 3 days in England (figure 69)
    • a person committing assault risked 11 days of incarceration in the United States versus 1 day in England (figure 70)
    • a person committing burglary risked 5 days of incarceration in the United States versus less than 1 day in England (figure 71)
    • a person committing motor vehicle theft risked 3 days of incarceration in the United States versus less than 1 day in England (figure 72).

    Is the risk of punishment rising or falling in both countries?

  • The risk of punishment is generally rising in the United States and falling in England.

    From 1981 to the latest year of available data (1994 in the United States, 1995 in England), the risk of punishment for committing --

    • murder rose 2.4 years in the United States (914 days in 1981 rising to 1,802 in 1994) and rose 1.3 years in England (1,117 days in 1981 rising to 1,590 in 1995) (figure 67)
    • rape rose 6 months in the United States (143 days in 1981 rising to 319 in 1994) and fell 24 days in England (151 days in 1981 falling to 127 in 1995) (figure 68)
    • robbery rose 5 days in the United States (17 days in 1981 rising to 22 in 1994) and stayed constant in England (2.8 days in 1981 and 2.6 in 1995) (figure 69)
    • assault rose 7 days in the United States (4 days in 1981 rising to 11 in 1994) and fell in England (1 day in 1981 falling to .7 in 1995) (figure 70)
    • burglary rose 2 days in the United States (3 days in 1981 rising to 5 in 1994) and fell by 1 day in England (1.5 days in 1981 falling to .4 in 1995) (figure 71)
    • motor vehicle theft rose 2 days in the United States (1 day in 1981 rising to 3 in 1994) and fell by more than 1 day in England (1.9 days in 1981 falling to .4 in 1995) (figure 72).

    Chart data - in spreadsheets
    Figure 67 Figure 68 Figure 69
    Murder Rape Robbery

    Year
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    1981 913.98 1,117.03 143.33 151.47 16.70 2.81
    1982
    1983 1,114.12 1,083.20 121.52 125.87 16.40 2.77
    1984
    1985
    1986 1,401.37 216.90 27.38
    1987 1,058.56 124.27 3.80
    1988 1,368.38 247.53 19.88
    1989
    1990 1,464.87 245.66 23.97
    1991 1,446.10 103.12 4.30
    1992 1,765.72 326.98 24.37
    1993 1,875.12 94.07 3.33
    1994 1,801.56 318.74 22.05
    1995 1,590.19 126.82 2.59
    Figure 70 Figure 71 Figure 72
    Assault Burglary Motor vehicle theft


    Year
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    United
    States

    England
    1981 3.62 0.98 2.86 1.47 1.32 1.88
    1982
    1983 5.41 1.18 3.90 1.33 2.31 1.47
    1984
    1985
    1986 8.78 4.57 3.62
    1987 1.34 0.95 0.67
    1988 7.12 3.80 2.59
    1989
    1990 10.53 5.13 3.85
    1991 1.18 0.64 0.21
    1992 10.87 5.55 4.37
    1993 0.92 0.43 0.26
    1994 11.05 4.60 3.36
    1995 0.71 0.44 0.36


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