Americas

US: Homicide rates up 30% in 2020 amid pandemic

1,268 more deaths have been registered in 34 cities compared to 2019, says study

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 05.02.2021
US: Homicide rates up 30% in 2020 amid pandemic

ANKARA

Homicide rates across the US rose sharply, 30%, in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report of the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

Compared to 2019, 1,268 more deaths have been registered in the sample of 34 cities and showed an upward trend in all of the cities.

Experts underlined the need for urgent action to address these rapidly rising rates in the ''Impact Report: COVID-19 and Crime'' report, released on January 31.

The study was conducted by noted criminologist and Professor Emeritus Richard Rosenfeld and Ernesto Lopez of the University of Missouri - St. Louis and CCJ Senior Fellow and Commission Director Thomas Abt.

"The fabric of American society has been tested in unprecedented ways in the past year – by the pandemic, the struggle against racial injustice, and economic decline," Rosenfeld said in a press release. "The combination of these stressors and a lack of effective outreach to at-risk individuals likely contributed to the elevated homicide rates we’ve seen in 2020."

For his part, Abt said: "The response to rising rates of homicide must not wait. A large body of rigorous evidence demonstrates that violent crime can be addressed using strategies that are available now and do not require big budgets or new legislation to be implemented. Even with the pandemic, the time to act is now."

Although the magnitude of this increase is "deeply troubling", the report said the absolute rates of homicide remain "well below" historical highs.

"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," it found.

While aggravated assault and gun assault rates in 2020 were 6% and 8% higher, respectively than in 2019, robbery rates declined by 9% due to lockdowns and restrictions.

However, those restrictions significantly increased the domestic violence during the first months of the pandemic.

The US is the worst-hit country by the pandemic with more than 26.6 million cases and nearly 456,000 fatalities, according to a running tally of the Johns Hopkins University.

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