Tagged: crime statistics

FBI 2020 Crime Data Shows Increase in Homicides and Aggravated Assaults

Today the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) released preliminary findings of their soon to be released annual report, Crime in the United States: 2020. While the final publication has not yet been released, the data can be accessed through the Crime Data Explorer. Additionally, publications from prior years are accessible online.

The preliminary data revealed that violent crime is up for the first time in four years, with 1,277,696 violent crimes reported to United States law enforcement in 2020. The violent crime rate (which accounts for population size) was 387.8 per 100,000 — a 5.2% increase when compared with 2019 rates (380.8 per 100,000). The violent crime increase appears to be a result of increases in aggravated assaults (+12.0%) and murders (+29.4%). However, not all types of violent crime increased from 2019 to 2020 — robbery decreased 9.3% and rape (revised definition) decreased 12.0%. Conversely, property crime is down, with 6,452,038 property crimes reported to law enforcement in 2020. The property crime rate (again, accounting for population size) was 1958.2 per 100,000, which decreased 8.1% when compared with 2019 rates (2130.6 per 100,000). The decrease in property crime appears to be driven by decreases in burglary (-7.4%) and larceny-theft (-10.6%). In contrast, auto thefts increased (+11.8%). It is important to note that crimes of arson are not included in property crime estimates, due to disparities in the agencies that submitted data for arson.

Continue reading . . .

Dubious CJCJ Report Claims that Republican Counties Suffer from More Violent Crime

California, like the rest of the country, suffered a major increase in homicide in 2020. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) has released a report by Mike Males that presents differences between Republican- and Democratic-voting counties (identified by majority voting Democrat in 2020) in terms of homicide rates. He argues that Republican counties tend to have higher homicide rates, stating that: “the clearest difference between areas that have cut crime substantially and those suffering the worst crime trends and rates is not geographic nor demographic, but how they vote – Republican versus Democratic.” However, this report ignores a number of important variables that could be obscuring this finding. Namely, Republican-voting counties tend to be more rural, suburban, and overall have a lower median income when compared with Democratic-voting counterparts, all of which could also impact homicide rates. The classic phrase to remember here is: “correlation does not equal causation.”

It is perplexing why a researcher would compare two groups that are vastly different from each other without attempting to control for outside factors that might differ between groups, such as geography or population size. As a result, the groups are not entirely comparable because they are not similar enough; in this situation researchers would need to apply adequate statistical controls to account for these differences, something that is missing from this analysis. Ideally, a well-conducted study would attempt to control for all factors that differ between counties, except for the political affiliation, i.e., the main variable of interest. Continue reading . . .