Category: Studies and Statistics

BJS releases 2021 victimization statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released information on 2021 victimization rates derived from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). There were no statistically significant changes in violent victimization or property victimization rates from 2020 to 2021. However, the violent victimization rate increased in urban areas, from 19.4 to 24.5 per 1,000. The percentage of violent victimizations reported to police increased (+6%), as did the percentage of violent crime victims who sought assistance from victim service providers (+3%). The percentage of property victimizations reported to police decreased (-2%), which was mostly due to a decrease in reporting for “other theft” (-3%). This post outlines the major findings from the report, while more detailed information can be found via the NCVS’ interactive data dashboard.

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Violent crime is up in 2022, according to MCCA survey of 70 U.S. police agencies

Violent crime is on the rise in the U.S., according to 2022 survey results recently published by the Major City Chiefs Association (MCCA). The MCCA is a professional organization of police executives that advocates for the advancement of public safety through innovation, research, and policy development. The results presented here were collected as part of an annual survey of their membership, which included 70 of the largest jurisdictions in the U.S.

Agencies reported the number of aggravated assaults, homicides, rapes, and robberies that occurred during the first half of 2022 and first half of 2021. Counts and rates were compared across years. Among responding agencies, there was a total increase of +4.4% in violent crime. This was driven mostly by increases in robberies, which were up +13.1%, and aggravated assaults, which were up by +2.6% These two crimes were the most prevalent overall, accounting for 86% of violent crime reported in 2022. Continue reading . . .

California’s overall crime rates are down, but numbers don’t reveal the whole story

In a previous post, we announced that California Attorney General Rob Bonta has officially released state crime data for 2021. He eagerly noted that violent and property crime rates are well below the historic highs seen in the mid-1990s, but whistled past the fact that violent crime rates have been slowly climbing since the early 2000s. The contradictory shifts in violent crime versus property crime are somewhat perplexing. While overall crime rates might be down, violent crimes, particularly aggravated assaults and homicides, have been increasing.

Looking at the numbers all together, it is important to keep in mind: all crimes are not created equal in the harm they cause. For example, homicides are a relatively rare event, yet they are much more harmful than high-frequency crimes like larceny. For example, an increase of 500 thefts would be a small change in the overall number of thefts and would have little overall impact on public safety, whereas an increase of 500 homicides would be a large change in the overall number of homicides and have a very detrimental impact on public safety. By looking at crime statistics though, these nuances can be overshadowed.

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The myth of the “red state murder problem”

After declining for over two decades, homicides in the United States increased sharply in 2015 and 2016. This slowed a little bit in the years that followed, until another dramatic increase in homicides occurred in 2020. In fact, the 30% increase from 2019-2020 is the largest ever recorded. By 2021, homicides rose another 5%. This uptick was not as striking as the one seen in 2020, though the numbers were still higher than pre-2019.

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What do federal firearms offenses really look like?

A recent report from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) published this month provided in-depth information on federal firearms offenders sentenced in 2021 under the primary firearms guideline, §2K2.1. This report is part of a larger series that examines various aspects of firearms offenses, such as mandatory minimum penalties and firearms offenders’ recidivism rates. USSC’s past research has found that firearms offenders are generally younger, have more extensive criminal histories, are more likely to recidivate, and are more likely to engage in violent criminal behavior. The number of firearms offenses has risen in recent years, and this report provides details that may be useful to policymakers. Continue reading . . .

Rural America surging worse in homicides

After declining for over two decades, homicides in the United States increased sharply in 2015 and 2016. This slowed a little bit in the years that followed, until another dramatic increase in homicides occurred in 2020. In fact, the 30% increase from 2019-2020 is the largest ever recorded. By 2021, homicides rose another 5%. This uptick was not as striking as the one seen in 2020, though the numbers were still higher than pre-2019. And while cities tend to have higher violent crime rates overall, newer research suggests that cities are now safer than they have been in decades, while small communities are becoming more dangerous. Specifically, the massive increase in homicides in rural areas is astonishing. From 2019-2020, homicides in rural areas rose by an average of 25 percent. Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the states with the highest homicide rates in 2020 were Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, and Arkansas.

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Misleading numbers: Why are suicides and homicides lumped together under the “gun violence” umbrella?

A recent article in TIME Magazine purports that “California’s answer to gun violence could be a model for the entire country.” In sum, the article states that California’s firearm violence has decreased over the last 20 years or so, relative to the rest of the country. They attribute this to the various gun legislation passed in California over the years that disrupted the manufacturing of cheap guns within the state, closed private sales loopholes, and restricted gun ownership for people convicted of a violent misdemeanor. But when looking at the actual data, these claims appear misleading.

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Sentence length and recidivism: An updated review of the research

Back in May 2021, we released a comprehensive research review examining the literature on the relationship between length of incarceration and recidivism. To date, this paper is the most comprehensive literature review on the topic. Over the last several months though, we have made some important updates and revisions. The updated version is now available via the Social Science Research Network.

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California DOJ releases 2022 firearms dashboard portal

The California DOJ recently released new and updated firearms data, available through the OpenJustice Data Platform. The Firearms Dashboard includes data from the past decade on things like dealer records of sales, gun violence restraining orders, concealed weapons permits, assault weapons ownership, and more. There are also a variety of links to supplemental resources, such as the California Firearms Law Summary. The portal shows how many guns were purchased each month and year, and this is also broken down by county, manufacturer, type of transaction (e.g., dealer sale, private party sale, pawn shop), race and age of the purchaser, and more. Similarly, the same breakdowns are available for gun violence restraining orders, assault weapons registrations, concealed weapon licenses, and more.

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Lengthier sentences lead to recidivism reductions: New Sentencing Commission report

Yesterday the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) published their seventh study in their recidivism series. This study examined the relationship between length of incarceration and recidivism and serves as an update to a prior USSC report published in 2020. Both studies were conducted by Ryan Cotter and are part of a larger multi-year recidivism series of more than 32,000 federal offenders. The older study examined federal offenders released in 2005, and the newer study replicated the analysis but with a cohort released in 2010. Recidivism was measured by re-arrest within eight years post-release. Results of both studies were almost identical, revealing that lengthier sentences were associated with decreased recidivism rates.  UPDATE:   CJLF researcher was interviewed on this subject on LA’s John & Ken Show at this link. Continue reading . . .