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German and American Prosecutions: An Approach to Statistical Comparison

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE


ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT                 BJS
SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 1998                      202/307-0784
         

        MOST SERIOUS CRIME RATES FAR HIGHER
       IN THE UNITED STATES THAN IN GERMANY


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Most serious crime rates are 
far higher in the United States than in Germany, 
according to a new study prepared for the Justice 
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).  
There are five murders and rapes per 100,000 population
reported to police in the United States for every one 
in Germany, Europe's largest country.  There are three 
or four robberies and felony assaults reported here per 
100,000 population for every one in Germany.

     For property crime the differences are smaller, 
but still substantial. There are one and a half times 
as many burglaries, two and a half times as many motor 
vehicle thefts and arsons and twice as many drug 
offenses reported to law enforcement agencies here for 
each one in Germany.

     The number of crimes per 100,000 inhabitants 
reported to police during 1992 in the United States 
and Germany was as follows:

                                 U.S.       Germany*
        Willful homicide  . .     9            2   
        Rape  . . . . . . . .    43            8 
        Robbery   . . . . . .   264           71 
        Aggravated assault. .   442          120
        Burglary . . . . . .  1,168          747
        Serious theft . . . . 1,747        2,175 
        Arson . . . . . . . .    42           17  
        Drug offenses 
          (arrests only)        418          187 
       ----------------------------------------------
       *Former West Germany and all of Berlin but 
        not including the remainder of the former 
        East Germany.

     Moreover, the German clearance rates are 
considerably higher. The 1992 clearance rates for the 
two countries in percentages were as follows:  

                                 U.S.     Germany*
        Willful homicide . . . . 65%         91%
        Rape   . . . . . . . . . 52          71 
        Robbery  . . . . . . . . 24          41
        Aggravated assault   . . 56          81
        Burglary . . . . . . . . 13          17
        Motor vehicle theft  . . 14          23
        Theft  . . . . . . . . . 20          31 
        Arson  . . . . . . . . . 15          32  
        Drug offenses  . . . .   N.A.        96
        --------------------------------------------
        *Former West Germany and all of Berlin but 
         not including the remainder of the former 
         East Germany.

     "Impressionistic evidence suggests that clearance 
rates are viewed as a more important indicator of 
system performance in Germany than in the United 
States," the report commented.

     The report, the most detailed analysis ever 
conducted of the differences in the German and American 
prosecution systems, notes that the German criminal 
justice system contrasts sharply with the American 
system in a number of important ways.  As in the United 
States, the German states (Laender) are responsible for 
criminal justice administration. Germany, however, has 
a single national code of criminal procedures and a 
much more unified court system.  The police and the 
prosecutors are state-level officials rather than 
local agency employees.  The prosecutor is not an 
elected official, but a civil servant operating 
within a hierarchal system.  There is no death 
penalty in Germany, and sentences for all crimes--both 
major and minor--are considerably lower than in the 
United States. German juveniles are never tried as 
adults, even for the most serious crimes.  And many 
18- to 20-year-olds are tried in the German juvenile 
courts.

     The report, "German and American Prosecutions: An 
Approach to Statistical Comparison" (NCJ-166610), was 
prepared for BJS by Floyd Feeney of the School of Law, 
University of California at Davis. The author assumes 
sole responsibility for the statistical assumptions 
and estimating procedures in the report.  Single copies 
may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 
1-800/732-3277.

     BJS regularly publishes reports on comparable 
justice statistics in different countries.  The BJS 
Internet site is:
           http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

     Additional criminal justice materials can be 
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs Internet 
homepage at:
             http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

                       # # #
BJS98145  
After hours contact:  Stu Smith at 301/983-9354 

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Date Created: May 27, 2009