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One factor sociologists and criminologists say contributes to dclining crime rates was that, during the 1990s, the economy grew rapidly as did the size and strength of the middle class, the job market, new business creation, home ownership and almost every other measure of economic progress. While this was unsustainable in the long run, obviously, prosperity rates are directly tied to crime rates.
A shift in the drug war also helped. As drug use trended away from crack cocaine towards heroin and meth that was manufactured elsewhere (albeit later with meth), it took a violent portion of the drug trade off American streets. This wasn't good for Tijuana and Juarez, but it was good for American crime rates.
Some would argue that incarcerating 2.3 million people inevitably put some career criminals behind bars for long sentences, and that with longer sentences and more prisons, it isolated more criminals from society and made us safer.
Lastly, some suggest a shift of population away from the major cities means that there has been less criminal activity, but I don't know if I buy that or not.
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