Politics and Measures of Success in the War on Crime

Michael E. Milakovich, Kurt Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Evaluation techniques used to measure the success of federal anti crime programs are controlled exclusively by local police, who submit unaudited crime reports to the FBI. Numerous studies have criticized the FBI Uniform Crime Reports as a biased source of information on the extent of the crime problem, and government surveys have shown that FBI figures mirror only a portion of the total number of crimes committed. Notwithstanding these serious deficiencies, the FBI index is still used by politicians, police offi cials, and the mass media as the primary indicator of effectiveness of federal, state, and local anticrime programs. In 1972 the Nixon Administration used crime rates to support the claim that it was winning the war on crime. Evidence submitted in support of this claim included the assertion that the rate of increase in crime had decreased, partly as a result of the millions of federal dollars allo cated to the states by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administra tion. This article assesses the weight of that evidence and addresses four related questions: How are attitudes toward the problem of crime formulated? Who controls the techniques for measuring progress in the war on crime? How does the absence of multiple measures of crime influence the distribution of federal anticrime funds? Who benefits from the results of crime evaluation?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCrime & Delinquency
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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