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Homicides Drop In San Jose And Across The Country In 2009

Publication Date: 
December 31, 2009
San Jose Mercury News
Linda Goldston and Lisa Fernandez

Professor Robert Weisberg, an expert in criminal law, is quoted on possible reasons for decreasing homicide statistics in California and across the nation in 2009:

The horrific murder-suicide of a Santa Clara family — three adults, two children and an 11-month-old baby — and the beating death of a 96-year-old Saratoga man shocked Silicon Valley in 2009. But as tragic as those killings were, the area actually had fewer murders this year than last.

Nationally, the picture was the same: Murder was down about 10 percent, and even more in some cities.


"Homicide statistics get the most attention," said Robert Weisberg, director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at Stanford University's School of Law. "But they're the most mysterious, complicated and least-predictable in determining a connection to economics."

And just because times are tough, Weisberg warned, doesn't mean crime in general will be up.

Sometimes economic downturns can lead to fewer property crimes simply because more people are unemployed and at home, dissuading would-be burglars from breaking in, said Weisberg.

Since the early 1990s, the nationwide crime level has either been decreasing or holding steady, Weisberg said. Some of the reasons include increased incarceration rates, smarter policing with the aid of sophisticated technology and the addition of more officers since 1994, when President Bill Clinton funneled money to local police departments.