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Publication Arrest in the United States, 1980-2009

Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D.

September 22, 2011    NCJ 234319

Presents new annual estimates of arrests in the United States covering the 30-year period from 1980 through 2009. Based on data collected by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, this bulletin expands the FBI’s set of published arrest estimates to include offense-specific arrest estimates for various demographic subgroups. The detailed breakdown of arrests and arrest trends describes the flow of individuals into the criminal justice system over a long time period. The estimates by type of offense reveal similarities and differences among demographic subgroups that may provide policymakers, researchers, the media, and the public a greater understanding of the underlying causes for the observed arrest trends.

BJS has developed the Arrest Data Analysis Tool that enables users to generate tables and graphs of national trends in arrests and arrest rates for a large set of offenses and population subgroups.


  • The U.S. murder arrest rate in 2009 was about half of what it was in the early 1980s. Over the 30-year period ending in 2009, the adult arrest rate for murder fell 57%, while the juvenile arrest rate fell 44%.
  • From 1980 to 2009, the black forcible rape arrest rate declined 70%, while the white arrest rate fell 31%.
  • Between 1980 and 2009, while the adult arrest rate for drug possession or use grew 138%, the juvenile arrest rate increased 33%. Similarly, from 1980 to 2009, the increase in the arrest rate for drug sale or manufacture was greater for adults (77%) than for juveniles (31%).

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