The National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) study on crime in 2020 revealed homicide rates increased by 30%.

A large rise occurred in June after the death of George Floyd.

The Council on Criminal Justice launched the NCCCJ to investigate crime statistics and the justice system during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of states and cities spent the year shut down, leaving many to worry about crime and mental health.

The NCCJ focused on 10 offenses:

  • Homicide
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Gun Assault
  • Domestic Violence
  • Robbery
  • Residential Burglary
  • Nonresidential Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Motor Vehicle Theft
  • Drug Offenses

The homicide data showed the “rates were 30% higher than in 2019, an [sic] historic increase representing 1,268 more deaths in the sample of 34 cities than the year before.”

However, the absolute rates of homicides remain low: “In 2020, the homicide rate was 11.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in sample cities; 25 years earlier, in 1995, the rate was 19.4 per 100,000 residents.”

The study looked at 34 cities, which the authors did not draw at random. The largest city is New York with 8.42 million residents and Norfolk, VA, with the smallest at 245,000 residents.

The authors noticed an increase once the pandemic started, but homicides spiked after Floyd’s death:

That said, homicides rates in 2020 exceeded previous rates throughout the entire year and there was a structural break in the city average in June, indicating a large, statistically significant increase in rates after adjusting for seasonality and the longer-term trend. After this break, homicide rates increased sharply through July, then declined through the end of the year, though not to levels observed in the prior year.

The pandemic began in March, but the report disclosed that “the average city homicide rate increased by 32.5% over the same period in 2019” in January and February.

More from the report:

From March through May, the rate was 19.4% higher. For the summer months of June through August, the homicide rate was 37.2% higher. For September through December, the rate was 28.2% higher.

From the declaration of emergencies in March through the end of the year, the average city homicide rate increased by 28.6% over the same period in 2019. Across the entire year of 2020, the homicide rate was 29.6% higher in 2020 than the year before. That translates to an additional 1,268 homicides across the 34-city sample.

Homicides went up in 29 of the 34 cities:

Several of the greatest increases occurred in smaller cities with very small homicide counts, where even a few additional homicides can produce a large percentage change. For example, Chula Vista, California, experienced the largest homicide increase in the sample (150%), but that percentage is based on a difference of just six homicides (ten in 2020 compared with four in 2019). But large increases in homicides were not limited to smaller cities. Chicago added 278 homicides to its 2019 total of 502, for an increase of 55%. New York added 131 homicides, representing a 43% increase. Not surprisingly, given their size, large cities with appreciable homicide increases contributed disproportionately to the overall increase in murder victims. The three largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago) accounted for fully 40% of the 1,268 additional people killed in 2020. While there is variation among the cities, what is most notable is that homicide rose substantially in the vast majority of them.

The report noted that the lockdowns “may have had an initial suppressive effect on homicides” since fewer happened in March through May. But the lockdowns also messed with mental health and cut off any outreach to at-risk individuals. That is why they concluded the numbers went up drastically as states and cities loosened restrictions.

The authors recommended that “subduing” COVID-19 is the best way to bring down the homicide rates. The lockdowns put strains on people while disrupting “outreach to at-risk individuals.” Zoom meetings cannot replace face-to-face meetings with police and therapists.

It does not take a rocket scientist or someone with a medical degree to know that locking humans inside for a long period of time is not healthy.

Humans need interaction. It’s cool we can meet with our psychiatrists and other doctors via Zoom. But it cannot replace the face-to-face interaction humans inherently need.


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