Criminal Intentions


The Problem

One of the great and nagging questions of all time is: How safe is the place where I live? Families spend small fortunes on security systems for their home and take extra precautions when on vacation all so they can feel safe. By examining the crime statistics for the fifty states across seven different categories, students can get a feel for where the safe places in the United States are, and where the least safe places are as well.

Explanation of Alignment with Standards

Background Information

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a unit of the U.S. Department of Justice whose principal function is the compilation and analysis of data and the dissemination of information for statistical purposes. Its mission is to “collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to Federal, State, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded.”

Among the statistics kept by the Bureau of Justice Statistics are the number of incidents of violent crimes (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and the number of property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). These incidents are maintained for every year and every state beginning in 1960 and are available online at BJS Crime Trends.

Materials Included

  • Sample data from 1977 (incidents per 100,000)
  • Instructions & solutions on ways to analyze the data