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In 1994, the US federal government adopted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (signed into law Sept. 13, 1994).

Ben Shapiro, host of the 'Daily Wire' podcast on YouTube, referred to it recently, saying:

The 1994 crime bill... it brought down crime...

The only thing the Wikipedia page says about crime reduction is in reference to the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office:

... it has been acknowledged that the COPS Office had at least a modest impact in maintaining a long period of reduction in crime that had begun in 1992, but the primary reasons for this reduction remain a topic of debate.

but the COPS provision is about funding assistance for hiring local-community police officers, which is a more benign part of the bill, not one of those parts that are widely panned today.

Also, a decrease in crime is a trend than can have multiple correlated causes other than high-level-legislated policing, trial, sentencing and incarceration policy. And there's the question of what constitutes "crime": De/criminalization of certain behaviors increases or reduces crime rates. Even without that happening, if 10 more people get murdered each year, but 20 less people are beaten up; is there "less crime"? If 5 more banks are robbed for $1 million each while 1000 less stores are robbed for $5,000 each, is there less crime?

So, my question is: What parts, if any, of the Public Law are known to have "reduced crime" significantly, and under what definition and measure of crime?

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Crime went up until around 1991 and then began sort of a long, slow, steady decline that's continued through pretty much to today. There's no real indication that it went down any faster after the bill was passed.

The bill did not raise incarceration, but it also did not reduce crime. Its impact on both was fairly minimal.

The crime bill increased the number of drug offenders in federal prison, but the feds make up about 13 percent of all inmates. Eighty-seven percent are held in the state system. And the crime bill's impact on the state system was actually fairly minimal. Only 4 states adopted the VOI/TIS grant that should've driven incarceration. If we look at New York who received the most grant money than other states actually began a 15-year decline before the six-year program was even over. There’s no evidence that prison populations grew any faster in states with TIS laws than in states without them.

The driver of the mass incarceration that we have seen over the last few decades actually took place at the state and at the county level. DAs became more aggressive. States passed tougher sentencing laws. Also, simply between 1960 and 1991, we did see a fairly sizable increase in violent and property crime. And some of it was just a response to the underlying trends in offending.

Some numbers shown by John Pfaff, professor at Fordham Law School :

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    References regarding the lack of impact on states' legal systems? – einpoklum Aug 2 at 11:49
  • First of all only 4 states adopted the VOI/TIS grant that should've driven incarceration. If we look at New York who received the most grant money than other states actually began a 15-year decline before the six-year program was even over. There’s no evidence that prison populations grew any faster in states with TIS laws than in states without them. – Timmetje Aug 2 at 11:58
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    You need to add your references into the body of your question. Otherwise this looks like an un-referenced answer and is likely to be downvoted and deleted. – DenisS Aug 2 at 14:07
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    Yes, cite the references in your answer and I would upvote. – fredsbend Aug 2 at 16:03
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    Better to use a bulleted list when you're listing several URLs like that, I think. – einpoklum yesterday

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