The study of rural crime has the potential to make important contributions to crime policy, criminological theory, and research methods in criminology. Although most places in America remain rural, researchers have paid insufficient attention to rural crime and have not utilized the wide variations among rural areas as natural laboratories for research. This report outlines what is known about rural crime and suggests likely rural crime issues for the future. Understanding rural crime requires understanding factors that make rural life distinct from urban life, including geography and culture. Understanding rural crime and anticipating future rural crime issues also requires understanding how technology, economic factors, and demographics shape the nature of rural crime. Official police data and victimization data are used to examine the levels of rural crime and to compare patterns of rural and urban crime. A variety of sources are used to examine substance abuse and domestic violence, two types of crime that appear to have similar rates across rural and urban areas. The report also focuses on the emerging issue of environmental crime in rural areas. And, despite the importance of race in urban studies of crime, little rural crime research has directly addressed links between race and crime.
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