From Route Fifty:

Emily Mooney, a criminal justice policy associate at the R Street Institute, said the report “dispels the myth that we’re in the midst of a new crime wave,” when we are in fact “living in one of the safest times in our nation’s history.” That’s in spite of slight increases in measures like aggravated assault, which saw a 1 percent uptick.

She praised South Dakota, which saw property and violent crimes increase in 2016, for tackling its meth problem through criminal justice reforms aimed at addressing addiction and moving away from “tough on crime policies” with longer sentences.

Closer attention is needed to cities like Baltimore, which saw violent crimes rise 13 percent, Mooney said.

“People of different races and genders are still being treated differently when they interact with the criminal justice system,” Mooney said. “And we are seeing a new divide in the criminal justice system arising between our rural and urban communities.”

Prison admissions continue to decrease in the most populous communities, while increasing in the smallest ones, where punishments tend to be more severe, she added.

Crime rate declines coincide with community policing efforts by local law enforcement agencies, “the most effective way to decrease crime,” said Justin Lundgren, assistant chief with the Spokane, Washington Police Department.

“These FBI crime statistics point to the need for localized policy solutions driven by evidence and parsimony, not fear,” Mooney said. “Parsimony means inflicting the least harm possible, while seeking to accomplish our intended results.

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