Crime rates plummeting? McDonnell's claim ranked 'mostly true'

Just how safe is Virginia? If you asked Governor Bob McDonnell, he would tell you that only is the state safe, but it is actually getting safer.

Here is what he said at a recent press conference:

"They need to be taken off the streets and incapacitated for a significant amount of time. That's why we abolished parole 15 years ago. Then you can see the enormous positive results in Virginia as our crime rate continues to plummet."

Is the crime rate in Virginia plummeting? According to the reporters at Politifact Virginia, that claim is "mostly true."

His facts are right. It's the language that is a problem. According to Merriam Webster's dictionary, in order to plummet something must "drop sharply and abruptly."

The crime rate has certainly gone down, and it has been going down for some time. But Virginia is no different than the rest of the country, and the rate was going down before the 1995 parole reform law was passed and it continues to drop after.

But according to Politifact Virginia reporter Warren Fiske, that drop is slow and steady, not sharp and abrupt, like McDonnell claims.

"This has been sort of a gradual decline over 10 or 15 years. Even a few years in this period where the crime rate has inched up a little bit, so we rated the governor's claim mostly true," Fiske said.

And you can see all the information behind this week's Politifact Virginia report on their web site, and you can see all our past reports on my political blog,

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