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March 12, 2023

Encouraging big-city homicide trends continuing into 2023

A couple months ago, in this post just a few weeks into 2023, I again flagged this AH Datalytics webpage's "YTD Murder Comparison" Dashboard that collects homicide data from police reports in nearly 100 big cities.  I noted in that post that, after significant increases in homicides throughout the US in 2020 and 2021, it was encouraging that the dashboard showed that nearly two-thirds of big cities were reporting homicide declines in 2022 relative to 2021 and that nationwide murders in large cities were down nearly 5% for 2022.  

Of course, these reported homicide declines for 2022 followed particularly high homicide rates in many locales in 2021, and we still have a way to go to get back to pre-pandemic homicide levels.  But I found these nationwide big-city data to be encouraging for 2022, especially because in mid-January the downward trends in homicides in our nation's very largest cities appeared to be carrying over to the start of 2023.  Following up, this morning I took a look at a few updated police reports to see if these positive 2023 homicide trends are continuing a couple months later, and the encouraging trends are so far persisting.  Specifically, based on the dashboard data and (linked) police reports, we see:

Chicago homicides down 14% in 2022, and down another 11% in first two+ months of 2023

Los Angeles homicides down 5% in 2022, and down another 30% in first two+ months of 2023

New York City homicides down 11% in 2022, and down another 19% in first two+ months of 2023

Philadelphia homicides down 9% in 2022, and down another 20% in first two+ months of 2023

Of course, these four very big cities are not fully representative of what may be going on with homicides nationwide as 2023 shifts into daylight savings and warmer weather.  And homicide trends in the first two months of this year could change in many ways in the weeks and months ahead.  Still, these encouraging homicide data continue to reinforce my hope that the surging number of homicides in just about every part of the US through 2020 and 2021 were mostly a pandemic era phenomenon and that lower homicide rates may soon be more common. 

March 12, 2023 at 11:40 AM | Permalink


Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 12, 2023 1:37:51 PM

Are you one of those types, Tarls, who does not trust anything the police say?

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 12, 2023 2:17:10 PM

Nope. It just reminds me of Biden. Inflation goes up to 10%, then back to 9% and then he talks up how it is somehow “encouraging” (to use your word).

From “historic highs” to “near historic highs” is not encouraging at all. It’s dreadful.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 12, 2023 4:22:18 PM

Thankfully, Tarls, we are a long way from "historic highs" when it comes to the US homicide rate. The homicide rate was 6.9/100,000 in 2021, which is lower than every single year from 1969 though 1996 (with a peak rate over 10 in that period and over a dozen years at 9 or higher). Also, though the data is less reliable, it appears that the homicide rate in the US was over 8 from 1921 to 1935 (driven, it seems, by Prohibition-era violence).

If the recent encouraging trends continue, we could reasonably hope we are heading toward homicide rates that might approach the historic lows of the Obama era. It is way too early to assume these trends will continue, but I still think it quite fair to call these trends encouraging, not dreadful.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 12, 2023 8:14:14 PM

Doug is right in that the homicide rate is no where near the historic highs of the 80s and 90s. I think the homicide spike in 2020-2021 was due to the Covid lockdown as people grew frustrated and angry as institutions were inaccessible to them. This uncertainty compounded with economic recession probably correlates with the homicide spike.

I am concerned that Republicans will prioritize crime during the 2024 elections. Republicans are and will propose "hard on crime" laws that will only increase mass incarceration. Democrats will reference racial inequality and poverty, but won't propose laws to combat poverty let alone any meaningful criminal justice reform.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 12, 2023 10:58:04 PM


At best you are missing the forest for the trees and at worst are trying to be slippery as hell.

Our murder rate increased to its highest level in about 25 years and dropped a tick. Maybe not “historic,” but generational.

It’s “lying using statistics.”

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 12, 2023 11:19:31 PM


“I am concerned that Republicans will prioritize crime during the 2024 elections.”

Caring about public safety? The horror!!!

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 12, 2023 11:21:00 PM

TarlsQtr --

I love it when Anon and his allies pretend to be concerned about crime (until the mask slips, which is often). What they're actually concerned with is that the electorate is onto them, and will sink their ship next year, https://ringsideatthereckoning.substack.com/p/thermidor-arrives

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 12, 2023 11:33:27 PM

Tarls, describing something as reaching a "historic high" that is, in fact, nowhere near a "historic high" is what could be called a lie, though I do not think you were intentionally seeking to mislead. You just had the facts wrong, and I reported the actual statistics to correct your misstatement of the facts. That's not "lying using statistics," that is correcting the record so that actual statistics are clear rather than allowing a misrepresentation to go unaddressed.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 12, 2023 11:56:26 PM

Tarls and Bill Otis believe only Alex Jones, George Santos, and Tucker Carlson.

Posted by: anon | Mar 13, 2023 10:38:48 AM


I’ve never watched Jones, Tucker only in passing, and feel Santos should resign (while noting Biden’s lies about his own resume are even worse). Try again.


The statistical slipperiness is in setting the baseline. Yes, I was factually wrong using “historic,” but it doesn’t change the point. Setting the baseline over the last couple of years ignores that we are still at a high point in nearly a generation.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 13, 2023 12:28:38 PM

If there's any baseline "statistical slipperiness," Tarls, you are the one greasing the discussions. We were at or relatively near historical LOWS for homicide through most of the 2010s. Then we had a big jump in homicides in 2020 throughout the nation, which I am inclined to attribute to both the pandemic and the George Floyd murder and their echoes. There was then another small increase in 2021, but the early numbers for 2022 and 2023 suggest we are now heading back below, perhaps significantly below, our 2020 rate. We need more data and more time to be truly hopeful about getting back to the historical LOWS for homicide through the 2010s, but if the latest 2023 data are accurate and continue through the year, we may be already approaching the homicide rates of the GWB years when we were in the 5.6/5.7 range.

Key point, because we were relatively near historical LOWS for homicide, the significant 2020/21 spike still gave us a homicide rate at or below the rate that the US experienced for every year for nearly 3 decades, from 1968 to 1997. (Also, though the data is sketchy, every year in the US from 1900 to 1935 likely also had higher homicide rates than we experienced in 2020/21.) Still, it is fair to say we hit a generational high in 2021, but that is coming off the baseline of historically low homicide rates for the recent generation. And, ECOURAGINGLY, data in 2022 and early 2023 suggest we are now on a path to returning toward near historical lows without ever getting anywhere close to the historical highs of earlier eras.

If you want to keep calling these statistical facts a form of "lying using statistics," I will keep pointing out your efforts at "newspeak."

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 13, 2023 2:26:18 PM

The trend has been going upwards since 2014.

Personally, I don’t have one damn to give if it’s from George Floyd, the “echoes,” fluoride in the toothpaste, or an increase in Bigfoot sightings.

Using your logic, it shows that policy matters. Weak on crime policies since Floyd are clearly a factor. Perhaps we should go back to the policies of the 90’s that created the big drop in homicide rates.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 13, 2023 6:59:58 PM

TarlsQtr --

You might not know much about Alex Jones, George Santos, and Tucker Carlson, but you're still a racist. Plus you're guilty of child abuse for keeping your kid from coming to Pacific Paradise.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 13, 2023 7:19:34 PM

I believe a lot of things impact homicide rates, Tarls, including policies. One policy that seemingly produced a huge spike in homicides back in the 1930s was alcohol Prohibition. Also, the huge increases in incarceration rates, driven in part by the start of a new "war on drugs," in the 1970s and 1980s also seemed then to be associated with high homicide rates. Meanwhile, the right policy explanation for the 1990s crime drop is widely debated, in part because there was a parallel drop in many countries outside the US with much lower incarceration rates (leading to suppositions about baby boomers aging out of crime and speculations about lead mitigation as a key factor).

Also we actually had a small homicide increase in 2015/16, but then saw a partial decline in 2017-19. Intriguingly, that mini-increase (after hitting a record low in 2014) came not long after the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown/Eric Gardner/Walter Scott/Freddie Gray and associated protests. That timing, as well as pandemic/post-Floyd realities, suggest to me the lessons of the work of Tom Tyler in books like "Why People Cooperate" and "Why People Obey the Law" --- namely that a justice system (and government more generally) needs to engender trust/respect to be most effective. Prohibitions that are widely disregard and perceived inequitable enforcement can undermine rather than engender trust in the system. So can misrepresentation of data. So can describing everything as racist. And so on....

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 13, 2023 7:56:00 PM

Doug --

Trust and respect. Correct.

As I have pointed out here many times, the police are ALREADY trusted far more than lawyers or journalists, even in an era where trust in all public institutions is falling. And what needs respecting more than anything else is the basic obligation of citizens to obey the law whether they like it or not. Lefties see this easily when talking about Donald Trump and the J6 defendants, but just whistle past it when dealing with your garden variety rapist, thief or swindler.

It's preposterous to lay all the burden on society. It's up to the INDIVIDUAL to meet his obligations as a citizen. If he doesn't, he is rightly held accountable and punished. And trying to win the "respect" of a person who willingly and repeatedly victimizes others is a fool's errand. We should not be trying for his respect; he should be trying for ours, and behaving accordingly. If he won't, he's made his own bed.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 13, 2023 9:19:32 PM

Here in Lexington, Kentucky, the annual number of homicides has risen annually and substantially for several years in a row, including in 2022. Our local Government has hired people and made substantial investments in different approaches to preventing these shooting homicides and those efforts seem to be bearing fruit. There were no homicides here during January 2023. This is the first time in more than 10 years that there have not been any homicides during January. So far, we have had only 1 homicide here, thru March 13, 2023, and it was on February 6. By this date in 2022, Lexington had already had 7 homicides. This kind of turnaround is a remarkable set of innovations. Stay tuned.

Posted by: James Gormley | Mar 13, 2023 11:01:19 PM

“… perceived inequitable enforcement can undermine rather than engender trust in the system...”


Who “engendered” distrust in the system?

Hint: It’s the same soft on crime club. BLM, etc., wrongly claimed that unarmed black men were getting slaughtered by racist cops on the streets. This falsity was pushed in individual cases (Michael Brown) and across the country as a general claim.

You don’t get to create the problem and be taken seriously to solve it.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 13, 2023 11:08:24 PM

I concur, Tarls, that misrepresentation of reality can contribute to distrust and other problems in our justice system --- see, eg, Prez Donald Trump's repeated false claims of election fraud and all the crimes that followed.

That is one of many reasons why I personally try hard not to make (intentional or unintentional) misrepresentations about homicide rates, the Booker ruling, or other matters. I am sure I do not always succeed in getting all the details right, but I certainly will not turn to Orwellian newspeak by suggesting someone is "lying" if he corrects a factual misstatement.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 13, 2023 11:42:43 PM

Doug --

"I personally try hard not to make (intentional or unintentional) misrepresentations about homicide rates, the Booker ruling, or other matters."

I take it your conclusion that misrepresentations ought to be avoided reaches such statements as, "Tarls and Bill Otis believe only Alex Jones, George Santos, and Tucker Carlson." Would that be correct?

Some of people you have on here are enough to give crackpots a bad name.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2023 12:16:21 AM

Bill, many comments by many commentators are so rhetorically silly and obviously non-factual (and do not engage with the substance of the post) that I think it neither necessary nor worth the time to factually respond. (For example, I did not bother to "fact-check" this statement of yours: "The course I teach at Georgetown is called 'The Defense Bar's Devotion to Truth'.") The Jones/Santos/Carlson comment fits there. In addition, often "crackpots" are going back and forth in the comments seemingly just fine without my interjection.

But Tarls responded to my collection of police homicide data in the main post with "Lies, damn lies, and statistics." I asked if he distrusted the data police assemble, and he then wrongly stated that the data reflected homicide rates coming down from "historic highs." I set forth homicide data documenting that we are nowhere near historic highs and that recent highs (in 2021) are still way below the homicide rate for the entirety of the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush years. In response, Tarls suggested I was "lying using statistics." So, in his Orwellian newspeak, police data are "lies," data nowhere near a historic high is a "historic high," and my data-driven response to his misrepresentation is "lying using statistics."

Perhaps I should just be content with Tarls engaging in newspeak rather than complaining about pronouns. But I suppose I am disappointed he walked away from these queries about drug policy in a prior thread he started: "Can you explain, Tarls, whether you think there is any way for the government to discourage an activity without criminalization? That is where I am eager to work together based on what I sense is our shared view that lots of drug use can be harmful to the user. Do you think there are ways to address problematic use other than through mass criminalization? Or is criminalization and criminal enforcement the only way to discourage an activity in your view?"

And, Bill, speaking of an unanswered query in a prior thread, I am still seeking your answer to this question about your understanding of SCOTUS sentencing law: "Guideline 2D1.1(b)(1) says that, when sentencing a drug offender, 'If a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) was possessed, increase by 2 levels.' I am saying that, if the guidelines are to be made 'mandatory' again, that finding of weapon possession -- which enhances the guideline range 2 levels --- would be subject to the BRD jury requirement per Booker. Do you disagree?"

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 14, 2023 1:00:39 AM

Bill - putting all the blame on individuals obscures the needed changes society can make to reduce incarceration and the toll it can take on individuals (witness the shockingly high recidivism rate as you have so often pointed out). The needed realization by some prosecutors that the "tough on crime" approach has produced undesirable costs (growing prison populations, soaring costs) is long overdue. Brett Miler

Posted by: Brett Miler | Mar 14, 2023 8:50:57 AM

Brett Miller --

"Bill - putting all the blame on individuals obscures the needed changes society can make to reduce incarceration and the toll it can take on individuals..."

If you object to "all" the blame, OK, please tell us how MUCH blame exactly should be placed on individuals for their own conduct.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2023 10:27:03 AM

Doug --

"Bill, many comments by many commentators are so rhetorically silly and obviously non-factual (and do not engage with the substance of the post) that I think it neither necessary nor worth the time to factually respond. (For example, I did not bother to "fact-check" this statement of yours: "The course I teach at Georgetown is called 'The Defense Bar's Devotion to Truth'.")"

Oh, please, feel free to fact check it. Even better, sign up for it! One big advantage of being in that class is that, I guarantee you, it won't take up much of your time. Then sign up for my next course, "Why AUSAs Are Actually Thuggy Extortionists." That will take up even less time.

P.S. I'll be visiting at Stanford next semester, teaching, "How To Shout Down a Federal Circuit Judge in the Name of Diversity." The follow-up course is, "Free Speech Stinks."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2023 10:34:26 AM

I hope you will share all your syllabi, Bill.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 14, 2023 10:44:26 AM

Bill - your approach to incarceration (blaming it all on individuals) obscures the fact that certain environmental factors can make a person more susceptible to criminal activity. Reducing the negative criminogenic factors of imprisonment can lead to a safer society in the long term by keeping individuals closer to the family and support systems that can reduce violence and other criminal behavior. Blaming individuals for their conduct can and should try to be accomplished without using the most intrusive method the criminal justice system has (prison in most cases). Brett Miler

Posted by: Brett Miler | Mar 14, 2023 11:25:02 AM

Doug stated,

“Perhaps I should just be content with Tarls engaging in newspeak rather than complaining about pronouns. But I suppose I am disappointed he walked away from these queries about drug policy in a prior thread he started: "Can you explain, Tarls, whether you think there is any way for the government to discourage an activity without criminalization? That is where I am eager to work together based on what I sense is our shared view that lots of drug use can be harmful to the user. Do you think there are ways to address problematic use other than through mass criminalization? Or is criminalization and criminal enforcement the only way to discourage an activity in your view?"”

Walked away? What generally happens, and I have seen the same with you, is that one gets pulled into several threads or one gets rotated off the first page and you forget about it. I can assure you that I have never run or walked away from a thread. I hold my own just fine on this page filled with lawyers, law professors, crackpots, and crackpot lawyers. Believe me. The question above sure as hell isn’t going to get me to walk away. I’ve answered it countless times in other threads and it’s a layup. When I misspoke about “historic highs,” I immediately corrected it. Talk of “Orwellian newspeak” is utter bullshit and you know it. It’s not like I pretended that the DPIC was not an advocacy group and “walked away.”

(BTW, I’d put forth the one who changes long established pronoun usage to assuage the mob is more concerned about them than I ever could be. Again, face tattoo syndrome.)

Yes, I do believe activities can be discouraged without criminalization. To do so, we need to encourage a return to traditional values (the horror!). Promote getting a job, dating, marriage, and having children in that order. Promote individual responsibility (again, the horror!) and that setbacks in life are no excuse for criminal behavior. None of that is easy, but it is the ONLY way out. We have become a country of narcissists who believe their own personal desires are more important than promoting a healthy society.

In short, the answer to criminality is preventing people from becoming criminals. By the time these people get to prison, it’s generally too late.

The DC police chief mentioned that the average murderer is arrested 11 times prior to the murder. That suggests the person is the problem, not over criminalization, over incarceration, or “the system.”

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 14, 2023 11:25:59 AM

Doug stated:

“So, in his Orwellian newspeak, police data are "lies," data nowhere near a historic high is a "historic high," and my data-driven response to his misrepresentation is "lying using statistics."”

More bullshit.

1. I never said that police data are “lies.” That statement from you is an actual lie.
2. I corrected my misstatement about “historic highs” almost immediately. It also didn’t change the strength of my argument. A generational high is not exactly an applause line. If you want to play that game, I can too.
3. Your “data driven response” used a baseline of what, two years? You cherry-picked it. My baseline was about 8 years, enough to show a legitimate trend. Here is a lie that compares to yours. When Biden took office, gas was $2 and some change. It went up to $5. It then went down to $4.50 (because I don’t care to look up the exact prices, they are all approximate. I shouldn’t feel the need to be that clear, but I now do) and he bragged about bringing gas prices down. Is it factually true? Yes. Is it still a lie? Yes. It completely omits the baseline of when he took office. It’s a lie using statistics.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 14, 2023 11:54:45 AM

A few quick responses, Tarls:

1. Glad you remain interested in discussing drug policy, and sorry for suggesting you walked away if you are interested in continuing. I agree that keeping up on all threads can be challenging, I was just surprised that thread ended since you had raised an interesting idea for drug war "compromise." And so you know, I favor encouraging a return to (freedom-based) traditional values and promoting getting a job, dating, marriage, having children and promoting individual responsibility. But I think we figured out pretty quickly that alcohol Prohibition could often serve to undermined those values, and I fear that widespread drug prohibitions can often do the same. I think that is especially true when we criminalize and arrest people for mere drug use, especially since that seems often to promote more harmful drug uses and illicit markets and can make criminals out of nearly everyone. (Of course, I suspect most Americans illegally consumed alcohol before they were 21, but we largely prevent all these "people from becoming criminals" by not enforcing our prohibitions through an alcohol war that seeks to make dozens of arrests at every frat party.)

2. I have never had any mob complain about my pronoun use, Tarls, just you.

3. You are right that is was wrong for me to suggest that you said police data are lies, and I am sorry I made that suggestion. But it is not "lying with statistics" to note data showing homicides now headed down the second year in a row and calling that encouraging in a post that expressly states that there were "particularly high homicide rates in many locales in 2021, and we still have a way to go to get back to pre-pandemic homicide levels." Still not seeing what you seem so eager to call a "lie using statistics." (Also, if this is about politics, the year of the recent huge spike in homicides was when Prez Trump was in office. But anyone not trying to sell a story should sensibly see how the pandemic and our responses in part accounts for unusual swings in gas prices and homicide rates.)

4. I am not sure what you are calling a trend, but homicide rates where at historic lows in 2014, then went up in 2015-16, then went down in 2017-18, were flat in 2019 and then had a huge spike in 2020, a relatively small increase in 2021, and then a relatively small decrease in 2022 (in larger cities) and have started 2023 with a larger decrease in our largest cities. Not sure if that is that's the 8 years you are referencing as a trend, but I see ups and down after historic lows in 2014.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 14, 2023 2:04:26 PM

1. I’ve never been sure that Prohibition is other than a specious argument. Eliminating alcohol, which had never been done, is different than prohibiting a substance that has been illegal a long time. Alcohol had always been a part of our culture, with exceptions of minority groups such as the Puritans, and it’s difficult to outlaw once the genie is out of the bottle. Once drugs are out of the bottle, there is no putting it back in. Add in the fact that many of the supposed benefits of marijuana legalization you outlined did not materialize, and I’m hesitant to believe it now.

You mention kids being able to get alcohol. Do we want that for kids and drugs too?

I’m not sure how criminalization makes “criminals out of nearly everyone.” I’ve never done hard drugs, nor anyone in my family or cohort of friends.

2. Of course if you give in to the mob they won’t complain. Have you ever had a student with “preferred pronouns?” If so, what do you think would have happened if you didn’t use them? We saw what happened at Stanford partially due to such an awful crime of refusing such a request.

3. I still don’t see why you keep trying to attach Trump to me. I’ve never voted for him in the general (third party) or a primary (other candidates).

4. Ever see a trend line? Which way is it going between 2014 and now?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 14, 2023 3:13:57 PM

Doug --

"I hope you will share all your syllabi, Bill."

Just read Ringside and you'll have a real good idea.

P.S. On a slightly more serious note, when I start my class at Georgetown, I tell students (1) I hope we can keep things respectful, but there is no speech code in this class, and (2) I spent most of my career as a federal prosecutor and I mostly have that perspective, so you should bear that in mind for the drop/add period. And some have indeed dropped out (although the seats are inevitably filled by others on the waiting list).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 14, 2023 5:44:39 PM

Bill, I do read Ringside, perhaps you will post your syllabi there before your next class.

In order, Tarls:

1. It seems you agree that alcohol Prohibition was a bad idea because it proved harmful to address public health problems with criminalization. There are longer and broader traditions using alcohol than other drugs, but drug use has been part of the human experience in nearly every era with nearly every culture (especially if you include caffeine and tobacco). The key point is that addressing public health matters with criminalization can do more harm than good. (And I think parents should be in charge of helping kids make healthy choices, not the state through mass criminalization. We have an obesity problem with kids (and adults) in the US, but I do not want the state to make it a crime to consume a donut.)

As for the "benefits of marijuana legalization," recent data show hundred of thousands of fewer yearly arrests for MJ possession. That's thousands fewer people every week getting an arrest record and thousands of cops using their time better. A conservative estimate of legal MJ sales is well over $100 billion, netting at least $15 billion in tax revenue. That's legal jobs and resources not going to cartels and other illicit actors (many of whom commit other crimes fueled by or to secure drug profits).

There are, critically, marijuana legalization costs (like alcohol legalization has plenty of costs). But, even without considering the liberty benefits to individuals, I so far see net benefits from alcohol and marijuana legalization, though people with various values can come to different conclusions. (Guns are another possible parallel; many see net positives from gun legalization, others see net negatives.) But, fundamentally, if you acknowledge some harms caused by alcohol Prohibition, you see how prohibition of some harmful substances may do more harm than the substance itself. And, especially if you worry about government seeking to control individual behaviors for the "collective good," one should see all broad prohibitions that do not fully respect the harm principle to be suspect and potentially corrosive to a free society. Put simply, I think we can do better than mass criminalization to inculcate better values, but maybe I am foolish to so hope.

2. Since I started teaching decades ago, I have always tried to call students by whatever names or nicknames (or pronouns) they said they preferred. I have viewed doing so as a way to be polite, courteous and respectful, not as giving in to anyone. And I see the lack of politeness, courtesy and respect in public discourse as a much bigger threat to our society than whatever might be the fashionable terms folks are eager to use or not use. After all, I am happy to call you Tarls when that is not your real name (and if you asked me to use TarlsQtr or TQ in the future, I would try to do so). For some, what they call themselves and ask others to call them is an important part of their identity, and I see little harm in respecting that (even when, as is sometimes the case, the name they want to use seems peculiar to me). I am not worried about a mob coming after me if I fail, as I sometimes do, to get the fashion right. My sense is that building a record of trying to be polite, courteous and respectful can get paid back (though I know for sometimes it is not).

3. I am not trying to attach Trump to you. You keep using the Biden gas example, which leads me to think you are trying to make some kind of political point about the data. I am pleased to hear the Big Liar does not have your support.

4. I do not see a trend line when, over 8 years, we started with 2 years with homicides up, then 2 years down, then one year flat, the one year waaaay up, than one year up a little, then one year down a little, and then the start of a year way down. (Also, to talk of a "trend line" over 8 years with a pandemic shock in the middle seems peculiar, at best.) That all said, I was quite worried that the 2020 spike was going to start a worrisome new trend when the 2021 data was a little worse. But that is exactly why it seems so encouraging that homicides went down as much (and maybe more) in 2022 as they went up in 2021 and now may be going down a whole lot more at the start of 2023. And, again, that's describing the data, not what you seem so eager to call a "lie using statistics."

If you want to say: "It is still quite troubling that we are considerably above the historic homicide lows of 2014 and we should not assume recent downturns will persist especially if we ________________ (fill in your pet policy)." But you make the accusation of "lie" meaningless if, for whatever reason, you keep throwing around that epithet in response to fair descriptions of data (that, I am inclined to guess, do not suit your desired narrative).

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 14, 2023 6:20:24 PM


1. Does that mean parents should have the right to allow their children to use hard drugs? After all, not using them is a form of “healthy choices.”

Two of the biggest “benefits” you promised with drug legalization are no black markets or crime. That never came to fruition, as people are still growing and selling pot illegally, and states are even creating task forces to combat this as it cuts down on tax income.

I’ve still seen no legit answer about the problem of children using pot and being much more likely to suffer psychoses.

2. Excellent. My pronouns are “master” and “liege”, which I expect you to use moving forward in the name of politeness.

3. This was one of several times you have brought Trump into a conversation with me. I’m not sure why other than you believing I’m a supporter.

4. If you do not see a trend line, you do not know what one is. Create one and you will see.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 15, 2023 11:01:00 PM

1. Master Tarls, should parents have the "right" to allow their children to use firearms or play football or use smart phones or do other things that can be dangerous? I am not focused on "rights," but on the harms/problems of over-criminalization (and unequal application of criminal prohibitions). Do you think the state should criminalize parents who give their kids smart phones when considerable "evidence from a variety of cross-sectional, longitudinal and empirical studies implicate smartphone and social media use in the increase in mental distress, self-injurious behaviour and suicidality among youth"? See "Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health," https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7012622/

I do not think I have "promised" anything, my liege, but I do not see problematic alcohol black markets since we ended Prohibition. We have not yet ended marijuana (or other drug) prohibitions at the federal level or in most states, so it does not surprise me that we still see robust illicit markets in other drugs. As for crime, one recent review of literature reached this summary: "Overall, the literature suggests that cannabis legalization has resulted in some benefits to public health and public safety, even while some studies have produced mixed findings with regard to particular outcomes. Much of the literature regarding the impact of marijuana legalization on crime shows promising effects, including decreases in violent and property crime, reductions in drug-related arrests, and an improvement in crime clearance rates." See "Effects of Drug Policy Liberalization on Public Safety: A Review of the Literature," https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4294150

I certainly am fine with the criminalization of intentional child abuse, and that can include harmful exposure to all sort of drugs and all sort of other dangerous conduct. But I would worry a lot about allowing the government to criminalize parents who give their kids too much screen time or too many calories. Do you want to live in a society in which government bureaucrats use the criminal law to enforce one vision of good parenting?

You have now twice made reference to "hard drugs," master Tarls, but I am not sure what that means. Is alcohol a hard drug? marijuana? codeine? adderall? You mentioned that you have "never done hard drugs." How about "soft" drugs? Is marijuana a "soft" drug? alcohol? caffeine? tobacco? Do you think the state should criminalize "soft" drugs because some people may use them in an unhealthy way? Or is it you view that only "hard drugs" and not "soft" ones ought to be subject to criminalization?

3. Master Tarls, I said I was glad to hear you were not a Trump supporter.

4. Would it be fair, master Tars, to say the trend line of decreasing homicide rates from 2017 to 2019 was disrupted by the COVID pandemic in 2020-21, but that trend appears to be returning? Even more to the point, if you think there is a clear trend line of increasing homicides from 2014 to 2021, you should find it even more encouraged that there was a decline in homicides in 2022 and that 2023 is starting with an even more significant declines.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 16, 2023 12:29:15 AM

1. Football, smartphones, and firearms all have legitimate and safe uses. Smoking meth is never safe. A silly comparison. Parents usually have the right to weigh risks vs rewards. There are no rewards to sticking a needle in your arm just as we don’t allow parents to sell a 10 year old daughter into prostitution. The only possible outcome is harm.

You know very well what “hard drugs” are. As far as the others, we should and do prevent children from using them. The problem with marijuana, compared to the others, is that it does permanent and irreparable harm to young adults. A Pepsi will not.

Do any of those studies give a longitudinal look at what marijuana use will do the mental health of a generation of young people smoking it? Of course not. We just have to wait and see the train wreck after the fact just as we watch an even worse train wreck result of kids being given irreversible chemical castration drugs, mutilating their genitals, and scooping out their breasts to further a fake ideology. I’m sure you see that merely as a parental rights problem too.

3. I know, but I am just surprised. I’ve said it several times previously when you tried to tie my views to Trump.

4. Again, a legitimate trend line is not created in a year or two, especially after reaching a generational high. A freshman statistics teacher would tell you that.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 16, 2023 1:48:50 AM

1. Tarls, a version of meth can be used safely to treat ADHD and has been used for some obese patients to lose weight. Do you think use of that drug in those ways should be criminalized? Fentanyl, which is now killing tens of thousands, has long been an FDA approved drug for pain when dosed and prescribed the right way. Are these hard drugs or do they only become hard drug when dosed/misused in the illicit market? The categories you want to use for drugs are not so simple, even without getting into gender ideology (are hormones hard drugs?), especially if we are talking about categorically criminalizing parental behaviors. (Have you seen there is a bill in California to ban football for kids under 12? Are you saying that it would be okay for a parent to let his 10 year old have access to machine guns? And so on.)

And let's focus on marijuana and fast food. I am still unsure if you consider marijuana a hard drug, and I trust you realize we are learning lots about the possible medical benefits of CBD and other components of the plant for seizure disorders and other ailments. Is a low THC version of marijuana a hard drug? How about a high THC version? More broadly, do you really think a parent who would urge his high school kid to smoke a joint rather than binge drink at parties is doing more long-term health damage than one who feeds his kid Taco Bell for every lunch and KFC for every dinner? Id there any "reward" for fast food consumption?

Of course, dosing matters --- but there is far more data suggesting that our obesity epidemic is costing us more as a society (health and tax wise) than marijuana use. As I have stressed before, drug use and and does have significant public health harms, and legalization will not make them go away (see, eg, alcohol and tobacco). But criminalization has its own harm that need to be part of any cost/benefit calculation.

3. You kept bringing up Biden, which is why I finally noted that the huge murder spike in 2020 was under Trump's watch. I am not trying to tie you to any politician.

4. Whatever trend semantics you want to embrace, I hope you share my joy in seeing homicide rates declining last year and during the start of this year. I hope the latest path continues.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 16, 2023 10:30:32 AM

Id there any "reward" for fast food consumption?

You've obviously never had Chick-Fil-A

Posted by: federalist | Mar 16, 2023 12:44:20 PM


1. Pronouns

I suspect you have thought like a lawyer for so long you can’t do anything but comment like one.

Seriously? I’m not talking about prescription drugs legally and responsibly prescribed by a doctor. That’s obvious. Most prescription medications are harmful when misused. I’m clearly not referring to those uses.

The question of hormones is whether it is a safe practice to give to kids. It’s not or, at the very least, there are no longitudinal studies supporting it’s safety. That said, I believe even the sickest transgender ideologues know hormones with kids aren’t safe.

Again, marijuana and fast food is a classification error. Marijuana is never safe for kids, in any dose. A trip to Popeye’s isn’t killing anyone. We cannot monitor every dosing issue with fast food, caffeine, etc. We CAN do our best to keep drugs with no legitimate purpose, other than possibly closely monitored health uses, away from kids.

Comparing obesity and marijuana is another silly comparison. We all eat everyday and all have a chance to get fat. There are relatively few marijuana users, even fewer that do it regularly, so you are comparing apples to sofas. Riding a motorcycle is dangerous too, but those like me who do it cost the system less than obesity because there are relatively few of us.

BTW, obesity actually costs the healthcare system less money than being fit.

And I absolutely would rather have my kid binge drink at a party than smoke marijuana. One will cause a hangover the next day. The other causes lifelong mental illness.

3. I brought Biden up only as an example of lying with statistics.

4. Whatever shoddy statistical analysis you want to embrace, I agree.

Some questions you never answered:

Should parents have the right to give their kids cocaine?

Are there any longitudinal studies of the harm pot does to children?

Will more or fewer children use hard drugs if legalized?

Is pot still a black market item?

Are there still cops kicking down doors because of it?

Are there still cartels and drug violence because of it?

Road safety is always a big issue with you. Will pot and hard drug users make our streets safer?

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 16, 2023 2:00:30 PM

Master Tarls, you are raising too many questions and conflating too many issues to allow me to address all matters effectively in this space. (Also, I am still awaiting your accounting of hard/soft drugs so I can better understand which drugs you like/dislike more.) But I'll follow up on a few fronts hoping to advance the conversation (with new numbering my liege):

1. You say, "Most prescription medications are harmful when misused." Does that mean you favor people (and parents) being subject to arrest and prosecution for any misuse of medications? Lots of activities can be harmful, but we ought not (and generally do not) criminalize everything that can be harmful. I trust you agree that not everything that can be harmful should be criminalized, so we are on the same starting page for what drives my thinking that not all drug use should be criminalized.

2. Early research suggests certain types of marijuana --- high CBD, low THC --- may be potentially medically beneficial for certain kids (certainly more so than alcohol). But I agree that for most kids (and adults), public health realities suggest that lots of marijuana, like alcohol, will not be healthy or helpful. But, again, the issue is whether (and how) we should criminalize that which can be harmful.

3. Speaking of harmful, six people die from binge drinking every day according to a study from a few years ago: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/06/alcohol-binge-death-cdc/21331661/. Nobody dies from a marijuana overdose (though, of course, intoxication on any substance can lead to harms on motorcycles and elsewhere). So I think you are risking harm to your kids if you encourage them to binge drink even once over using marijuana even a couple of times. But I would not want to criminalize you for that choice. Why, Master Tarls, do you want to criminalize a parent who might want to encourage their kids to make less dangerous choices?

4. I am intrigued, my liege, by your statement that "obesity actually costs the healthcare system less money than being fit." I would like to hear more about that, and wonder if Master Tarls would favor criminalize people for being fit if it costs us all more.

5. I cannot address all your question in this medium effectively, but I will state again that I do not think parents have a "right" to intentionally harm their kids with any drug. But, again, at issue here are not "rights," but whether (and how) we should criminalize activities which can be harmful. Do you think parents have a "right" to ride on a motorcycle with their kids? Would you support criminalizing use of motorcycles since bikes are clearly quite dangerous: "Per vehicle miles traveled in 2020, motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash." https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles. Should I support criminalizing motorcycles, Master Tarls, given that riding a motorcycle surely is "never safe for kids"?

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 16, 2023 3:10:26 PM


Preamble. Nonsense. My questions can be easily answered.

Hard drugs are pretty universally considered to be coke, heroin, meth, etc.

1. It depends how the prescription medication is misused. Selling it to others? Yes. Getting hooked on painkillers after legitimate prescribed long-term use? Absolutely not.

2. There are non-THC medications derived from marijuana that can be given to kids.

3. Marijuana deaths happen frequently. Not from the weed per se, but from other drugs put into it to up the kick. Dealers are not going to stop putting embalming fluid in it just because pot is legal.

Who said anything about “encouraging” my kid to binge drink? My goal is neither.

4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/03/22/alcohol-obesity-and-smoking-do-not-cost-health-care-systems-money/?sh=360b93ba64aa

5. Essentially, living longer outweighs the increased cost of being fat. If you drop dead of a heart attack at 50, you aren’t costing the system anything between the ages of 50-80. Meanwhile, the person living longer might get cancer, need a knee replacement, etc.

It’s not true that motorcycles are “never safe for kids.”

No, I would not encourage criminalizing being fit. My argument is not economic.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 16, 2023 4:02:15 PM

1. Master Tarls, we are debating the criminalization of drug use, not sales. Do you think misuse of any prescription drugs should result in arrests and prosecutions? How about any use of "soft" drugs like tobacco and alcohol?

2. There are alternative to all drugs, that's not the issue. The issue is whether and how you want to criminalize people or parents for using or not using drugs the way you want them to use drugs. Would you criminalize binge drinking? Do you want police on college campuses arresting and prosecuting everyone who binge drinks or drinks before turning 21 or takes aderall improperly?

3. Are you trying to make my point, Master Tarls? When drugs are illegal, people selling on the illicit market often sell more dangerous version of the drugs. This was part of the ugliness of alcohol Prohibition: "In New York in 1926, about 750 perished after imbibing the wood alcohol-laced bootlegged liquor. That New Year’s Eve, as people drank in 1927, many jammed Bellevue Hospital on New Year’s Day and 41 died. Hundreds more New Yorkers died later that year. In Philadelphia, 307 died that January, and 163 in Chicago. About 15,000 people were reported poisoned in just one county in Kansas. Up to 50,000 people may have died from the repurposed industrial alcohol nationwide and thousands of others were stricken by crippling paralysis." I made the point before that there are lots of public health harms that result from prohibition, not from the drug itself.

4. I had an inkling you were suggesting that, because unhealthy people die early, they save health-care costs. I doubt you mean to be advocating for having more unhealthy people who will die sooner, but that it the implication of your weak cite. And I suppose it explains why you might support the public health harms of illicit drug supplies. But it also would make you a fan of traffic fatalities and homicides. Are you really the proponent of early deaths, Master Tarls? (And if you are, I do not understand your opposition to cost-saving abortions.)

5. How are motorcycles safe for anyone when they have 28 times the risk of death compared to car travel? If Motorcycle Airlines crashed 28 times as many planes as another airlines, I would not consider Motorcycle Airlines safe for anyone. Should we start have a campaign to criminalize motorcycle use, which seems a lot more dangerous and harmful than a lot of drug use? I assume you think motorcycles are fun and worth the risk; others think that about various drugs.

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 16, 2023 6:16:19 PM


1. If you are selling your prescription medication to others, you are “misusing” them.

As far as drugs and alcohol, only those who supply them to minors should be subject to arrest.

2. Alternatives are the issue. If an effective and relatively harmless drug can replace an effective but harmful drug, yeah, it should be done.

I’m not willing to trade away psychoses for the limited legit uses of pot, especially with alternatives.

3. I didn’t make your point at all. We legalized pot and there are STILL illegal growers, gang trafficking and sales, people dying from laced pot, and police task forces beating down doors. In other words, almost everything you predicted was wrong.

4. This is disgusting: “Are you really the proponent of early deaths, Master Tarls?” Gee, Doug, you got me. The one who wants to keep kids away from illicit drugs wants to kill people in their youth. Genius stuff right there. It’s lawyer garbage, “Do you beat your wife?,” questioning rather than honest debate and is beneath your position.

Weak cite? I’ll remember that every time you cite some biased shit, which is constantly.

Is this a weak cite too? https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080204212858.htm

5. Again, category error. Motorcycles have legitimate uses. Putting a heroin needle in your arm doesn’t.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 16, 2023 9:42:45 PM

2. You say, MT, "If an effective and relatively harmless drug can replace an effective but harmful drug, yeah, it should be done." That is the argument made my MANY marijuana advocates: many medical MJ advocates say that MJ is more effective and less harmful than opioids for pain relief; many recreation MJ advocates say that MJ is more effective and less harmful than alcohol for relaxation. Do you support those using MJ who sincerely believe it is a "effective and relatively harmless drug can replace an effective but harmful drug"?

2+5. "If an effective and relatively harmless [means of transportation] can replace an effective but harmful [means of transportation], yeah, it should be done." By your logic, we should "replace" all motorcycles. And, you do not want to just "replace" certain drugs, you favor criminalizing/arresting/prosecuting certain drug users. So why not also criminalize/arrest/prosecute anyone using a motorcycle? What are motorcycle "legitimate uses" that cannot be replaced with something (a car) that is far less harmful?

The point, MT, is that the "logic" of drug use criminalization also supports motorcycle use criminalization (and lots of other criminalization based on various conceptions of harm). So if you find motorcycle use criminalization distasteful, you should at least understand why others find drug use criminalization distasteful. I do not expect to shake you from your disaffinity for certain drug use or users, but I hope you might understand that others could have similar disaffinity for motorcycles and football and all sorts of other stuff that they view as more harmful than useful. And if we use criminalization/arrest/prosecution to address all sorts of public health issues, I fear we misallocate our CJ resources and risk undermining the legitimacy of our CJ systems.

3. We have not "legalized pot." It is still federally illegal, and non-medical use is illegal in the majority of states. That creates a huge market opportunity for illicit actors for a drug that tens of millions use every month. To my knowledge, nobody has died from "laced pot" bought from a licensed store, only from the illegal market that persists because of persistent prohibition. I "predicted" less criminal justice harms from arrests (true); the other stuff requires full legalization AND cultural change. I hope it happens so we can see what may follow, but we are still a very long way from "legalized pot."

4. I suspected you did not mean to normatively advocate for the cost-saving from the early death of the unhealthy, which is why I said it was weak that you cited an article making that point. You now cite another article making the point that those who die early cost less than those who live longer. But still you seem to want to do disown the notion that it is good for folks to die early to save money. If you disown the idea that it is good for people to die early, you should agree that it is (normatively) weak that you keep citing articles making that point. (I am not saying the evidence in these cites are empirically weak, I am saying it is weak for you to cite evidence for a claim you seem eager to normatively reject.)

Posted by: Doug B | Mar 17, 2023 1:46:13 AM

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