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Expert Brief

Crime in 2017: Updated Analysis

This update to the Brennan Center’s September report finds that the overall crime rate, violent crime rate, and murder rate in the nation’s 30 largest cities are estimated to decline this year. Its projections directly undercut claims of a nationwide crime wave.

Published: December 19, 2017

In Septem­ber, the Bren­nan Center analyzed avail­able crime data from the nation’s 30 largest cities, estim­at­ing that these cities would see a slight decline in all meas­ures of crime in 2017. The report, Crime in 2017: A Prelim­in­ary Analysis, concluded by noting that “these find­ings directly under­cut any claim that the nation is exper­i­en­cing a crime wave.” 

That state­ment holds true in this analysis, which updates the Septem­ber report with more recent data and finds that murder rates in major Amer­ican cities are estim­ated to decline slightly through the end of 2017. Murder rates in some cities remain above 2015 levels, however, demon­strat­ing a need for evid­ence-based solu­tions to viol­ent crime in these areas. Find­ings include:

Down­load the report here

  • The over­all crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2017 is estim­ated to decline slightly from the previ­ous year, fall­ing by 2.7 percent. If this trend holds, crime rates will remain near historic lows.
  • The viol­ent crime rate will also decrease slightly, by 1.1 percent, essen­tially remain­ing stable. Viol­ent crime remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year down­ward trend.
  • The 2017 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estim­ated to decline by 5.6 percent. Large decreases this year in Chicago and Detroit, as well as small decreases in other cities, contrib­uted to this decline. The murder rate in Chicago — which increased signi­fic­antly in 2015 and 2016 — is projec­ted to decline by 11.9 percent in 2017. It remains 62.4 percent above 2014 levels. The murder rate in Detroit is estim­ated to fall by 9.8 percent. New York City’s murder rate will also decline again, to 3.3 killings per 100,000 people.  
  • Some cities are projec­ted to see their murder rates rise, includ­ing Char­lotte (54.6 percent) and Baltimore (11.3 percent). These increases suggest a need to better under­stand how and why murder is increas­ing in some cities.

The prelim­in­ary 2017 analysis is avail­able here.

Crime in 2017 Updated Analysis by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd