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He had no criminal record, but his family has indicated that he had a history of mental illness.

Crime in the United States has been recorded since colonization

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When we think of organized crime in America, we think of Sicilians
Later in the court process, the prosecution amended the charges to include 24 counts of murder in the first degree (two counts for each of the 12 victims killed); 140 counts of attempted murder in the first degree (two counts for each of the 70 victims injured); one count of possession of explosive or incendiary devices; and one count of unlawful use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a violent crime.

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Upon release they would have no criminal record, making them legally eligible to purchase a firearm.
Such is the magnitude of these differences that they often override one of the most powerful and universal influences on both crime and punishment--gender. Throughout the world, women make up a relatively small proportion of the prison population--less than 7 percent in the United States--and accordingly have far lower incarceration rates than men. But the incarceration rate for women in some American states is greater than the overall rate in most western European countries; the state of Oklahoma, at this writing, imprisons its female population at a rate higher than that for women and men in England or France.

 

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The trends in the use of imprisonment over time also differ strikingly between the United States and most other advanced societies. We've seen that the American incarceration rate roughly quadrupled--that is, rose by about 300 percent--from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s. Between 1968 and 1987, the imprisonment rate rose by 45 percent in England and Wales, 34 percent in France, and 16 percent in the Netherlands; it fell in Western Germany by about 4 percent and in Sweden by a remarkable 26 percent (rates of imprisonment have gone up significantly in England and the Netherlands in the 1990s, but not enough to match the escalation in the United States).


These comparative incarceration rates, not surprisingly, are often taken as evidence that the United States is a more punitive country than other industrial democracies. But some people argue that this kind of comparison is intrinsically misleading. Comparing different countries' use of imprisonment, in this view, is meaningless unless we also take into account the underlying crime rate. If the United States has more crime--or more serious crime--than other countries, then of course we'll have more imprisonment, other things being equal. This is an important point, if it is not taken too far. Unfortunately, it often is. There is a tendency among some commentators to want to downplay America's unusual prominence when it comes to crime and punishment, despite what the figures would seem to show. Some even want to have it both ways--arguing, almost in one breath, that the United States does not have an unusually severe crime problem and that it is not noticeably more punitive than other industrial countries. Obviously, however, that can't be true; our high incarceration rate relative to those of other countries must mean either than we have more (or worse) crime to begin with or that we are more severe with the criminals we have, or some combination of both. It cannot come from nowhere.


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In fact, the best evidence shows that America's "exceptionalism" is indeed a combination of both factors. As we'll see in detail later, crime is worse in the United States--especially major crimes of violence, but also some less serious offenses, including drug crimes. And though comparing sentencing practices across different countries is a very tricky enterprise, the best research suggests that we are tougher on many kinds of offenders than other industrial countries for which we have comparable data. In fact, sentences in the United States tend to be longer for all but the most serious offenses, notably homicide--a crime for which social or cultural differences are least likely to affect sentencing policy. Every country puts away murderers, usually for a long time. Hence we would not expect large differences among countries in the way murderers are sentenced (though it is curious that those who argue that the United States isn't especially punitive generally fail to mention that we are the only industrial democracy that still makes significant use of the death penalty for homicide). But there is likely to be more variation in the way countries treat property and drug crimes--as well as robbery, which is usually classified as a violent crime, and here the United States stands out, often dramatically.

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The differences appear whether we look at the likelihood of being sent to prison at all for given offenses (what criminologists sometimes call the "propensity to incarcerate") or the length of time offenders will spend behind bars once incarcerated (the severity of the sentences). On the first count, research suggests that compared, for example, with England and Wales, the United States is about equally likely to put someone behind bars for murder but considerably more likely to do so for burglary. That was true even back in the mid-1980s, when, according to an analysis by David Farrington of Cambridge University and Patrick Langan of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the likelihood of someone found guilty of burglary going behind bars was 40 percent in England and Wales but 74 percent in the United States. The difference is even greater now, after many years of tougher treatment of property offenders in the U.S. Robbery presents a somewhat more complex picture. In the mid-1980s, the United States was about as likely to imprison convicted robbers as England but considerably more likely to do so than West Germany. And these figures overstate the similarities between the United States and other countries because they focus on a handful of countries that are among the tougher European nations: Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and Holland, among others, use prison far more sparingly than Great Britain. (In 1987, for example, the Swedes imprisoned their population per violent crime at less than one-fourth the English rate.)