United States data on violent crime, arrests, and prison population

Violent crime in the United States

In 2021, 11,802 of 18,806 law enforcement agencies in the United States reported crime data to the FBI, covering 65 percent of the nation’s population. This was too few agencies to make reliable national estimates of violent crime in 2021, therefore the national crime data presented on this page end in 2020.

A list of law enforcement agencies in the United States that reported no or insufficient 2021 data to the FBI can be found at the bottom of this page.

Beginning with data year 2021, the FBI discontinued collecting Uniform Crime Reporting data via the Summary Reporting System and required law enforcement agencies to use the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to report crime statistics to the FBI. Because many states did not have full NIBRS reporting coverage in 2021, the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics generated estimated crime statistics based on the agencies that reported data to the FBI. The reported crime and clearance rates for 2021 have a level of uncertainty represented by a margin of error for each estimate because not all agencies reported data to the FBI.

Arrests for violent crime in the United States

In 2020, 42 percent of violent crimes reported to police were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.1 This is 5 percentage points lower than the clearance rate in 2010.

Prison population in the United States

There were 651,800 people in prison for violent offenses at the end of 2020, comprising 62 percent of the total prison population. Since 2010, the number of people in prison for violent offenses decreased by 10 percent. During that same period, the number of people in prison for nonviolent offenses decreased by 38 percent. Data on prison population trends in 2021 and 2022 are not yet available in national datasets.

Law enforcement agencies not reporting to NIBRS

Not all law enforcement agencies have begun reporting NIBRS data to the FBI. As of data year 2021, 11,802 of 18,806 agencies in the United States reported NIBRS data. Agencies that did not report in 2021 are listed in the table below. The population column is the number of residents of the jurisdiction covered by the law enforcement agency.2

Crime and clearance rates

Data regarding crime and clearance rates come from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Counts of reported violent crime between 2010 and 2020 are derived from the Summary Reporting System (SRS) in which law enforcement agencies submitted monthly counts of the four violent Part 1 Index Crimes (murder, aggravated assault, rape, and robbery). The FBI generated national estimates for reported crime and clearances based on agency-level reports, and these estimates were published through 2020 in the FBI’s annual report, Crime in the U.S.

National crime rates are calculated by dividing the number of estimated incidents by the total U.S. population. Population data come from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 1-year estimates (table B01003) and the 2020 Decennial Census Redistricting Data (table P1)

NIBRS participation

The number of agencies reporting to NIBRS comes from the State level UCR Participation Endpoint API. The participation status of individual agencies comes from the Agency level UCR Participation Endpoint API. Documentation of the FBI crime data API endpoints can be found on Crime Data Explorer.

Prison population

United States prison populations come from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Prisoners series reports, which publishes year-end population counts for each state’s prison system. The data in these annual reports come from state reports to BJS via the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) and the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) Program.

The NPS Program collects aggregate data from states regarding prison populations, while the NCRP collects individual-level data about people in prison. This difference in data collection methodology explains variations in reported prison populations depending on the data source used.


  1. An incident is considered to be cleared by exceptional means if a law enforcement agency is unable to arrest or formally charge a person with a crime, but the agency has met the following conditions:

    1. Identified the person who committed the crime
    2. Gathered enough evidence to support an arrest, make a charge, and turn over the person to the court for prosecution
    3. Identified the suspect’s exact location so that the person could be taken into custody immediately
    4. Encountered a circumstance outside the control of law enforcement that prohibits the agency from arresting, charging, and prosecuting the person

    Examples of exceptional clearances include the death of the person who committed the crime; the victim’s refusal to cooperate with the prosecution after the person who committed the crime has been identified; or the denial of extradition.↩︎

  2. Some agencies, such as university and park police, are considered to have a population of zero by the FBI.↩︎