For the most part, US crime rates remain very low versus 20 years ago. Some major cities, however, are seeing spikes in violent crime. This has gotten some media attention lately.
So what I wonder about is the downward curve in these BJS figures for incarceration. The prison population seems to have peaked around 2009, and then entered a decline. Federal prison population kept rising for a few more years, but is now on a downward curve too.
I'm not sure how much the overall trend of not locking up as many criminals directly leads to more crime, although it's not implausible prima facie. I'm thinking particularly about the failure to enforce the Federal laws on gun carrying by felons. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, whose city has seen the most famous increase in violent crime, has been calling for more robust prosecution of these violations.
It's the one kind of gun control that the NRA has generally completely supported. Instead of trying to prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns, why not prevent criminals from having guns? On the other hand, there is legitimate concern about the mandatory minimum aspect of the Federal law -- especially the way that the offenses can quickly 'stack' so that a first-time offender is treated as a multiple-time offender. A 25 year mandatory minimum sentence is draconian if the offense is just carrying a gun, even if it is while selling drugs or while a convicted felon.
Of course, it may not be that there's one simple fix. It could just be that the society is trending more chaotic and competitive as economic times get harder. If so, increasing prison populations may merely be a band-aid for the real issue.