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How does Iowa stack up in the U.S. in crime prevalence?

People in Iowa might be interested to know how many crimes occur in the state each year, and how the crime rate in Iowa measures up against other states in the U.S. Going back about 50 years, conviction and arrest data is generally available for most felonies and serious misdemeanors, and from this voluminous data we can begin to see a picture emerge.

Quite interestingly, the population of Iowa hasn't really changed significantly since 1960, only increasing by about 10 percent during the last half a century. But, criminal convictions have increased more than their share of the population increase during that time. It might be disheartening to see that violent crimes, which generally includes any physical act of violence by a perpetrator, such as assault or battery, has more than doubled during the last 50 years, or that there were roughly five times as many rapes in 2013 as there were in 1963, but these raw numbers may distort the fact that Iowa has crime rankings that consistently fall in the middle or lower end of all U.S. states.

There were 43 murders in Iowa in 2013, which may seem like a lot, but actually Iowa had the lowest incidence of murder per capita of any state in the U.S. In other areas, Iowa did not do quite so well. Iowa ranked 43rd in robbery, 26th in assault, 30th in burglary, 41st in theft, 37th in vehicle theft and 34th in violent crime.

Of course, the types of crimes committed and catalogued by type have also changed in definition over the years. For example, domestic assaults were once viewed as not a serious threat, but rather a "family issue" that law enforcement often didn't want to become involved in. Now, in Iowa and most states, there are mandatory reporting standards that police must follow whenever they suspect that violence or abuse is occurring in the home.

These statistics show that Iowa is still, on average, a pretty safe place to live when it comes to crime rate. It is also interesting to see how changes to law enforcement policy may have caused fluctuations to these statistics over longer periods of time. People who have been accused of a crime don't want to end up as a statistic, which is why they usually need to plan a solid criminal defense strategy in their case.

Source: Disaster Center "Iowa Crime statistics" accessed April 21, 2015

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