WASHINGTON — Crime levels fell across the board last year, extending a multiyear downward trend with a 5.5 percent drop in the number of violent crimes in 2010 and a 2.8 percent decline in the number of property crimes.
Year-to-year changes released Monday by the FBI in its preliminary figures on crimes reported to police in 2010 also showed violent crime fell in all four regions of the country last year — 7.5 percent in the South, 5.9 in the Midwest, 5.8 percent in the West and 0.4 percent in the Northeast.
Nationally, murder and non-negligent manslaughter declined 4.4 percent, forcible rape decreased 4.2 percent, robbery declined 9.5 percent, and aggravated assault was down 3.6 percent.
The downward trend for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was especially pronounced in the nation’s smallest cities, where it went down 25.2 percent for cities under 10,000 people. Murder actually rose 3 percent in cities with populations of 250,000 to half a million.
Among property crimes, motor vehicle theft showed the largest drop in 2010 — 7.2 percent — followed by larceny-theft, which was down 2.8 percent and burglary, a decline of 1.1 percent.
Some experts are puzzled. Expectations that crime would rise in the economic recession have not materialized. The size of the most crime-prone population age groups, from late teens through mid-20s, has remained relatively flat in recent years.
Miss. River partly reopens at Baton Rouge, La.
NEW ORLEANS — Some barges were allowed to pass Monday through a stretch of the Mississippi River that had been closed since three of the vessels sank late last week amid high water and fast currents.
Some in Louisiana were allowed to return home after being driven away by the threat of rising water, while others faced a new deadline for evacuating. In Mississippi where floodwaters were receding, inspectors evaluated damage to homes as frustrated residents waited to see for themselves what was left behind.
The Coast Guard allowed northbound vessels to begin passing through Baton Rouge one at a time Monday. Petty Officer Stephen Lehmann said southbound vessels will be allowed to travel down the river once the northbound backup is cleared, but didn’t offer a timeframe.
Supreme Court says California must release more than 30,000 inmates
WASHINGTON — California prison officials must remove tens of thousands of inmates from its prison rolls in the next two years, the Supreme Court ruled, saying persistent, severe overcrowding has resulted in “needless suffering and death” and violates the constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The ruling, one of the largest prison-release orders in the nation’s history, sharply split the court, with vivid descriptions of indecent care from the majority and outraged warnings of a “grim roster of victims” from some in the minority. It will force the state to reduce the number of inmates by more than 30,000, either by releasing some who are now held or by sending fewer local convicts to state prisons.
California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a muted statement calling for enactment of measures to enable the reductions and vowing that “I will take all steps necessary to protect public safety.”
Yemen gunbattles erupt after Saleh refuses exit
SANAA, Yemen — Security forces and opposition tribal fighters battled with automatic weapons, mortars and tanks in the Yemeni capital on Monday, blasting buildings and setting government offices on fire in violence that hiked fears of an armed confrontation after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a peaceful exit for President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The street fighting, in which six people were killed and nearly 40 wounded, was the heaviest clash between the pro- and anti-Saleh camps since hundreds of thousands of Yemenis began taking to the streets three months ago in protests demanding the ouster of the president after 32 years in power.