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Violent Crimes Declined Last Year: The AP reports the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that "violent crimes in the U.S. fell 5.5% from last year, with the biggest drop in the South." The crime rate dropped in all four categories of violent crime, murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and in all four regions of the country, the South (7.5%), the Midwest (5.9%) the West, (5.8%), and the Northeast (0.4%).  Preliminary statistics from 2010 were compared with 2009 and based on information from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies.  The FBI's release is here.

New York Closes Loophole in Child Molestation Crimes:  Sexual assault of a child 11 or 12 years of age may now be charged as first-degree felony sexual abuse in New York, reports Rocca LaDuca of the Observer-Dispatch (NY).  The recent legislation, signed into law last week by Governor Andrew Cuomo, closes a gap in New York's previous sexual assault laws that left the highest felony only if the victim was younger than 11.  Though the apparent legislative glitch was made known to legislators four years ago, opposition to tougher penalties from some lawmakers delayed the fix.  "The loophole that existed was allowing children 11 and 12 years old to be molested and the crime that was committed was the equivalent to stealing a pack of cigarettes," said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara.  "That is wrong.  They are not equal in crime and they shouldn't be equal in punishment."

Sentenced to the Kiddie Pool:  After pleading guilty to rafting on a flooded river without life preservers and lying about it, an Ohio couple found themselves serving time in an unusual spot - a kiddie pool during a weekend festival, adorned in life jackets and handing out water safety brochures.  Searchers spent hours looking for Grace Nash, 20, and Bruce Crawford, 22, last month after they were spotted in the flooded Grand River.  The couple made it to safety, but lied to an official about being in the water.  The AP has this story and picture.

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