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April 2, 2017

Encouraging new crime data from two big US cities

As the first quarter of 2017 comes to a close, it is encouraging to see reports from two major cities about declines in violent crimes.  Here are links and the basics of the stories:

Homicide rate in 2017 trending downward to historic low, NYPD says

With the first quarter of 2017 about to end, New York City is seeing a significant decrease in homicides and is on track to record around 300 by the end of the year, a level not seen in the modern era of police record keeping, according to NYPD officials and the latest department crime data. Through March 29, the city had recorded 60 homicides, compared with 68 in 2016, a drop of almost 12 percent, according to the data. As of late Thursday, the city hadn’t recorded any additional killings.

The drop in homicides comes at a time when the city is experiencing an overall 5-percent drop in all serious crimes, which include rape, robbery, and felony assault among others. It has also led to surprise among Police Commissioner James O’Neill’s staff even as they have become used to Compstat data showing a consistent downward trend in serious crime.

Chicago sees drop in violence so far in 2017, but numbers still high

As the first quarter of 2017 draws to a close, Chicago police are encouraged by a slight drop in violence, particularly in recent weeks in the city's traditionally most violent pockets of the South and West sides long plagued by poverty, gang activity and drug-dealing.  While the numbers are down from a disastrous 2016 when in excess of 4,300 people were shot, more than 760 of them fatally, the first three months of 2017 still rank as one of the deadliest starts to a year in nearly two decades.

Through Wednesday, with two days still left in the first quarter, 124 people were slain in Chicago, 9.5 percent down from 137 a year earlier, according to the Police Department's official statistics.  Over the same period, 685 people were shot, almost 13 percent down from 786 a year earlier, the department said.  A spate of shootings Thursday emphasized, however, just how volatile those numbers can be.  Within four hours, five people were found fatally shot in the South Shore neighborhood, and four others were injured in shootings across the city by early evening.

Needless to say, the data story out of New York is far more encouraging that the data story in Chicago. But any and every crime decline is one to be celebrated, especially by those advocating for an array of modern criminal justice reforms. As I noted in this post yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others are often inclined to point to any uptick in crime to resist any calls for reform of what I call "tough and tougher" sentencing policies, and both Prez Trump and AG Sessions have been eager to stress recent increases in homicides in Chicago and elsewhere. Having crime levels stabilize or decline can further fuel the momentum of criminal justice reform advocates.

April 2, 2017 at 02:03 PM | Permalink


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