[interviewer] You point out not only that the war on crime was a bipartisan effort — it started with L.B.J. but grew under Nixon — but also that it wasn’t really in response to a crime uptick, as many Americans thought at the time. [Thompson] It was pure rhetoric. It was a policy choice, not a crime imperative. . . . The civil rights movement comes North, and all of a sudden, Johnson starts to sound like Bull Connor, right?
Here is a graph of the murder rate from 1960-75:
Here is motor vehicle theft, which is measured pretty accurately because there are car registration records.
For other crimes, there's more possibility of changes in reporting rates, but here are a couple of others.
Finally, here is the number of prisoners in state and federal institutions:
Sources: FBI Uniform Crime Reports
Historical Statistics on Prisoners in State and Federal Institutions,Yearend 1925-86