How the pandemic impacted violent crime trends

Violent crime is often connected with material deprivation and attenuated social connections, according to a researcher and a reporter covering gun violence.  

Violent crime has been increasing recently, but over the last four decades, crime and violent crime are way down. Between the 1990s and 2014, crime — including violent crime and murders — fell by more than 50 percent across the U.S. It’s difficult to understand why, as criminologists are constantly debating this trend’s roots.

While some crime has been recently trending down, violent crime is generally up over the last year. Both in major cities like New York and Chicago, and in much smaller Michigan counties and cities like Grand Rapids, Detroit and Oakland County.

Why are we having such violent outbursts? Who are most likely to be the victims of crime? How much of this can be pinned on our reactions to the pandemic and the tremendous loss of life we’ve had, and how much of it is simply a result of poverty and disinvestment?

“There was a serious loss of extra-curricular spaces. It’s not home, it’s not work, but it serves as a refuge. It could be your friend’s house, it could be a community center, it could be school for a lot of young folks who are at risk of being shot or shooting someone themselves,” — Abené Clayton, reporter for The Guardian.


Listen: A reporter and a researcher discuss upward trends in violent crime.

 


Guests

Ames Grawert is senior counsel at the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. The Brennan Center is a nonprofit law and public policy institute.

“What we’re really looking at in 2020 is an increase in murders across all aspects and all types of American life. And that means it’s an American problem (demanding) for American solutions,” says Grawert.

Abené Clayton is a reporter on The Guardian’s Guns and Lies in America project. She says crime may have gone up during the pandemic because important safe spaces closed down for those who needed them.

“There was a serious loss of these kind of extra-curricular, if you will, spaces,” says Clayton. “It’s not home, it’s not work, but it serves as a refuge. It could be your friend’s house, it could be a community center, it could be school for a lot of young folks who are at risk of being shot or shooting someone themselves.”

 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

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