New York is America’s safest large city, the city that saw crime fall the most and the fastest during the 1990s and the early part of this decade. Yet New York’s murder rate is 80 percent higher now than it was at the beginning of the twentieth century — notwithstanding an imprisonment rate four times higher now than then. That crime gap is misleadingly small; thanks to advances in emergency medicine, a large fraction of those early twentieth-century homicide victims would survive their wounds today. Taking account of medical advances, New York is probably not twice as violent as a century ago, but several times more violent. At best, the crime drop must be counted a pyrrhic victory.
That is from The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz, hat tip to Chug Roberts.