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US murder rate saw historic increase during Covid-19 pandemic, making 2020 a year with ‘no modern precedent’ – report

Homicide rates jumped by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to the report from the National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ). That’s more than 1,200 additional murders on top of the 2019 total. Of the 34 cities examined in the report, 29 of them saw rises in the statistics of American killing. 

“Homicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year,” states the report. The “troubling” increase “has no modern precedent,” the researchers add.

While every month saw an increase in murder rates over 2019, the first weeks of the 2020 pandemic in the US saw the lowest increase. The report theorizes that strict lockdown restrictions presented fewer opportunities for such crimes to be committed easily.

The 2020 figures for January and February increased by more than 32 percent, then dipped to 19 percent for the period of March through May, when lockdown orders were arguably strictest and most widespread. The figures rose to 37 percent in the summer months, and dipped to 28 percent for the rest of the year.

“COVID-related restrictions may have had an initial suppressive effect on homicides, but the waning of those restrictions, coupled with the strain on at-risk individuals and key institutions – aggravated further by the lack of outreach to such individuals – have all likely contributed to elevated homicide rates in 2020,” the report states. 

The three biggest cities looked at in the report – New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – accounted for a staggering 40 percent of the noted increase in murder rates, with each seeing significant rises in homicides reported through 2020.

Other crimes like gun assaults and aggravated assaults also rose year-over-year – eight percent and six percent – while robbery and the rates of drug-related crimes actually declined. 

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