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Expert Brief

Crime in 2016: Updated Analysis

Overall crime rates in 2016 are projected to remain the same as last year according to a year-end analysis by the Brennan Center. The murder rate is projected to increase, driven by problems in Chicago.

Published: December 20, 2016

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In Septem­ber, the Bren­nan Center analyzed avail­able crime data from the 30 largest cities, project­ing that by the end of 2016, these cities would see a nearly unchanged rate of over­all crime and a slight uptick in the murder rate. That report concluded that while concerns about “out of control” crime rates were prema­ture, the data “call atten­tion to specific cities, espe­cially Chicago, and an urgent need to address viol­ence there.”

This report updates these find­ings, incor­por­at­ing more recent data. Updated Tables 1 and 2 show conclu­sions similar to the initial report, with slightly differ­ent percent­ages:

  • The over­all crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2016 is projec­ted to remain roughly the same as in 2015, rising by 0.3 percent. If this trend holds, crime rates will remain near historic lows, driven by low amounts of prop­erty crime.
  • The viol­ent crime rate is projec­ted to increase slightly, by 3.3 percent, driven by increases in Chicago (17.7 percent increase) and Char­lotte (13.4 percent increase). This is less than the 5.5 percent increase initially projec­ted in the Septem­ber report. Viol­ent crime still remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year down­ward trend.
  • The 2016 murder rate is projec­ted to be 14 percent higher than last year in the 30 largest cities. Chicago is projec­ted to account for 43.7 percent of the total increase in murders. The prelim­in­ary 2016 report iden­ti­fied some reas­ons for increas­ing viol­ence in Chicago, such as fall­ing police numbers, poverty and other forms of socioeco­nomic disad­vant­age, and gang viol­ence. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2015, when a group of three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — accoun­ted for more than half of the increase in murders. This year Baltimore and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., are projec­ted to see their murder rates decline, by 6 percent and 18.6 percent, respect­ively.
  • An increase in the murder rate is occur­ring in some cities even while other forms of crime remain relat­ively low. Concerns about a national crime wave are still prema­ture, but these trends suggest a need to under­stand how and why murder is increas­ing in some cities.

The prelim­in­ary 2016 analysis is avail­able here.

Crime in 2016: Updated Analysis by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd