Murder and assault rates rose across the country in the first half of 2020, although other violence and property crime rates are falling, according to the FBI’s latest Preliminary Unified Crime Report (UCR).

Legal experts, meanwhile, are warning of an increase in hate crimes, which have already increased in 2019, the FBI said in a second report released in November.

The FBI reported that in 2020 the number of homicide and non-negligent manslaughter rose 14.8% and the number of serious assaults rose 4.6%, while the number of rapes rose 17.8% and the number of robberies increased by 7.1%. The UCR published in September compares the data for January to June 2020 with the same period in 2019.

According to the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, established by the Criminal Justice Council in July, murder and assault rates are rising across the country.

The commission reports that between June and August 2020, murder rates increased by 53% over the same period in 2019, while the number of serious assaults increased by 14%. Led by Richard Rosenfeld, PhD, a former President of the American Society of Criminology, the study concluded that “it is necessary to fight the pandemic, pursue crime-fighting strategies with proven effectiveness, and implement the necessary police reforms, to permanently reduce violent crime American cities. “

Hate crimes increased in 2019

Meanwhile, the FBI released its report on hate crime statistics for 2019 two weeks ago. A survey of more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country found 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in the past year.

More than half of the victims (57.6%) were affected because of their race or ethnicity and 20.15 because of their religion. Another 16.7% were approached about sexual orientation and 2.7% about gender identity, the report said.

“In general, the madness caused by pandemics may have set normal patterns aside,” said Nora V. Demleitner, professor of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, who serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

Ms. Demleitner suggested that the increase in hate crimes is related to the political climate. “[There is] A widespread lack of confidence in the police or policing retreat, “possibly due to staff shortages in some communities due to Covid-19, she said.

Pandemic stress

Legal experts attribute the increase in violent and hate crimes to the pressures of the epidemic, particularly unemployment and the risk of exposure.

“Unemployment, economic insecurity and the stress of exposure to COVID-19, as well as being required to stay at home, weighed on family and community relationships during the early stages of the pandemic,” said Daphne R. Robinson, attorney and public Health Advisor in Shreveport, La.

“I believe that this upheaval has contributed to increased domestic violence, child abuse and participation in illegal activities, and thus increased exposure to gun violence,” Ms. Robinson told Medical Daily. She claimed that the level of racist rhetoric in the United States had increased and people of color felt increasingly excluded.

Many people have been laid off or on leave and are isolated at home around the clock with their families or alone.

“Instead of the usual couple of hours between work and bed, there is an increase in domestic violence,” said Don Hammond, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. “This is reflected in the overall violent crime rate.”

Common stress relief facilities such as gyms, bars, and other activities have been severely restricted due to COVID-19. Mr Hammond said that stress and energy build up at a breaking point.

“That opportunity arose when police officers killed multiple people and sparked large-scale protests,” Hammond said, referring to widespread protests that took place after George Floyd was killed by a Minnesota police officer last May.

Individuals either take this stress on others or turn it on themselves. An April 2020 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association warned of the increased risk of suicide due to pandemic-related factors such as economic stress, isolation, less access to community and religious support, barriers for those mental health treatment and 24/7 reporting.

Guilty courts?

Another factor, Hammond said, is the handling of criminal cases by the courts during the pandemic.

“The courts have closed and extended the hearing and reduced or removed the bail. The prisons have also been emptied to prevent the virus from spreading, ”he said.

“… To deal with a backlog of legal proceedings (over 7,000 in LA County), prosecutors are offering better plea settlement agreements, resulting in shorter prison terms for those convicted.”

This has released some criminals and may commit further crimes as they believe they would not be taken into custody due to COVID-19, he said.

Unfortunately, the entire criminal justice system does a poor job of providing resources to address issues that underlie criminal behavior – mental health, addiction, poverty, and other conditions that lead to crime, Hammond said.

“To the extent that this has improved in recent years, 2020 has been a step backwards as the courts are overwhelmed with cases and are reluctant to monitor more people in programs.”

Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based health writer who also writes on health and wellness for AARP, PBS ‘Next Avenue, Shondaland, and others.


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