http://thefreethoughtproject.com/prison-statistics/ According to new FBI statistics released this week, violent crime rates in the US fell over 4% in the past year alone, bringing the amount of violent crimes lower than it has been in nearly 40 years. The statistics showed that there were an estimated 1.16 million violent crimes in the year of 2013, which is the lowest number since 1978, when 1.09 million were recorded. Broken down, the report revealed that manslaughter dropped by 4.4% to 14,196, the lowest rate since 1968, while instances of rape were down 6.3%. Despite the tough economic times, robbery is also down by 2.8% and property crimes were down by 4.1%. The violent crime rate has been steadily declining since 1994, but the prison population has continued to increase over the decades. There are currently over two and a half million people imprisoned in the US, which is by far the largest prison population in the world. However, a study recently published by Pew Charitable Trusts showed that for the first time in decades, the US prison population is actually on a decline. Their research found that the drop in crime that was seen in 2013 actually coincided with a decline in the prison population. According to their data, the amount of people in the US prison system peaked in 2008, and has since dropped 6%. The study also found that there was a drop in the amount of prisoners in 32 of the 50 states, while imprisonment continued to rise in the other 18 states. California showed the largest drop in crime and imprisonment over the past five years, which is likely connected to lighter drug penalties that have been adopted in recent years. Even among those who are technically “guilty” of breaking some law, a vast majority of prisoners are nonviolent offenders who don’t belong in prison to begin with. According to some statistics, nonviolent offenders make up nearly 70% of the prison population, many of these people are not guilty of any transgression, and they are in fact themselves victims of state violence. While violence among citizens has dropped, violence against citizens carried out by police has been rising sharply. According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, 461 felony suspects were shot by police last year, which is the highest number seen in decades. These numbers are likely unreported as well, and only includes felony suspects, so it is possible that this figure is much higher than the study suggests. Another interesting angle is that in the same time period gun sales soared across the country, which seems to support the idea that more people owning guns actually contributes to making society a safer place. According to a Congressional Research Service report covered by Breitbart News on December 4, 2013, the number of privately owned firearms in America increased from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million in 2009 and has continued to increase every year since.