Crime Down in Florida

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is reporting the rate of crime in Florida is at a 34-year low, but what exactly lead to the drop?

The index crime rate dropped by six percent in 2004 with the rate of violent crime falling by three percent, but Florida Attorney Gen. Charlie Crist says there's still room from improvement.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is announcing a drop in the state's crime rate for the 13th year in a row.

"Part of the reduction in violent crimes has been because people who've committed a multitude of crimes are now being caught, being prosecuted, and they are serving longer prison sentencing."

The Annual Uniform Crime Report compiled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement looks at everything from murder on down to motor vehicle theft.

The governor credits the drop partly to tougher legislation such as the 10-20-Life and the 3-Strikes Law.

Charlie Crist says, "The fact that crime has gone down as much as it has, a 34-year low, is incredible. We have to continue to protect our children and continue to fight for them."

Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Anthony Schembri says while Florida's at-risk population has risen in the past 10 years, the number of them going into the system is dropping.

Anthony Schembri, Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, says, "The at risk population, that's 10 to 17-year-olds, increased since 94-95 about 34 percent. The referrals have gone down."

Attorney Gen. Crist says while the numbers are good, one crime is still too many. In an effort to accommodate criminals serving longer sentences, this year the Florida Legislature set aside more than $20 million for close to 4,000 additional prison beds.

Reported domestic offenses fell by .8 percent. Bush credits the Family Protection Act signed in 2001, creating tougher penalties for those who commit these crimes.