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Screenshot 2017-06-03 11.39.40

Dashed line is institutionalization rate (prison + asylum), solid line is homicide rate. First year is 1928, last year 2000. Crossover points are c. 1936 (homicides falling), c. 1968 (homicides rising), and c. 1996 (homicides falling).

Most news media coverage you read about how we must End Mass Incarceration Now starts with the factoid that crime is down since 1990, since it would be bad for The Narrative to start with, say, the old America of the JFK Administration. The huge LBJ Administration growth in crime that began during the peak of the Warren Court and the Great Society is, apparently, lost in the mists of time.

After all, who has ever heard of an obscure era known as The Sixties? Legend has it that there was once a rare group known as the Baby Boomers who were said to occasionally speak of The Sixties, but they apparently left no records behind.

But the graph above shows liberal policies of cutting imprisonment rates and shutting down mental asylums appears to have led to the big ugly X in the middle of the graph as the institutionalization rate fell and the homicide rate soared in the second half of the 1960s.

From the Texas Law Review:

From the Asylum to the Prison: Rethinking the Incarceration Revolution

Bernard E. Harcourt

Professor, U. of Chicago Law School
84 Tex. L. Rev. 1751 2005-2006

… When the data on mental hospitalization rates are combined with the data on imprisonment rates for the period 1928 through 2000, the incarceration revolution of the late twentieth century barely reaches the level of aggregated institutionalization that the United States experienced at mid-century. The highest rate of aggregated institutionalization during the entire period occurred in 1955 when almost 640 persons per 100,000 adults over age 15 were institutionalized in asylums, mental hospitals,and state and federal prisons.

Equally surprising, the trend for aggregated institutionalization reflects a mirror image of the national homicide rate during the period 1928 through 2000. Using a Prais-Winsten regression model that corrects for autocorrelation in time-series data, and holding constant three leading structural covariates of homicide, this Article finds a large, statistically significant, and robust relationship between aggregated institutionalization and homicide rates.

Thanks to Jim Trussels for calling my attention to this graph.

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In more Berkeley leftist violence news, from KQED News:

Hearing for Berkeley Murder Suspect Delayed After Courtroom Incident

By Alyssa Jeong Perry and Dan Brekke
FEBRUARY 1, 2017

Pablo Gomez, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal Jan. 6 stabbing of 27-year-old Emilie Inman at her home on Ashby Avenue. …

Members of Gomez’s family, friends from the UC Berkeley community and Inman’s Ashby Avenue housemates were in court for the 9 a.m. arraignment. The spectators were present when Gomez, wearing a red jail jumpsuit, met with a public defender, George Arroyo, in a small room adjoining the courtroom.

Arroyo emerged from the meeting after a few minutes as the sound of banging and screaming came from the room.

“He is losing it,” Arroyo said.

Well of course they is. You called them “he” rather than they’s preferred pronoun “they.” What kind of Bay Area lawyer are you not to first ask about pronouns?

A sheriff’s deputy rushed to the room, and shouts of “Get off me!” could be heard in the courtroom. Two more deputies responded and wrestled the 5-foot-5-inch, 110-pound Gomez to the floor.

Gomez, who is being held without bail at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, was dragged from the courtroom as family and friends wept. One of the deputies had what appeared to be a deep scratch on one hand.

Read the whole thing there.

Here’s Pablo’s Facebook page.

• Tags: Homicide 
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From The Forward:

We Still Don’t Know Who Killed Seth Rich 10 Days Later
by Ari Feldman July 19, 2016

Ten days after the murder of promising Democratic staffer Seth Rich, the Washington D.C. slaying remains unsolved and police say they have no suspects in the crime.

Rich, a Jewish data analyst for the Democratic National Committee who worked on polling station expansion, was shot and killed as he walked home on Sunday, July 10.

Police told Rich’s parents that they believed his death was the result of a botched robbery. Though Rich’s killer did not take his wallet or phone, D.C. Police Commander William Fitzgerald said that “there is no other reason (other than robbery) for an altercation at 4:30 in the morning” at a community meeting on Monday.

The meeting was meant to address the recent uptick in robberies in the Bloomingdale neighborhood near Howard University. Police reports say robberies in the area are down 20%, but an investigation by the Washington Post found that armed robberies are actually up over 20% compared with July 2015.

If Rich’s mother had been invited, she could have brought to the first night of the convention his American flag. The Democrats could have used one.

• Tags: Crime, Homicide 
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From The Guardian:

Is the ‘Ferguson effect’ real? Researcher has second thoughts

‘Some version’ of theory linking protests over police killings to increase in crime may be best explanation for increase in murders in 2015, St Louis criminologist says after deeper analysis of crime trends

Lois Beckett
Friday 13 May 2016 16.23 EDT

For nearly a year, Richard Rosenfeld’s research on crime trends has been used to debunk the existence of a “Ferguson effect”, a suggested link between protests over police killings of black Americans and an increase in crime and murder. Now, the St Louis criminologist says, a deeper analysis of the increase in homicides in 2015 has convinced him that “some version” of the Ferguson effect may be real.

Looking at data from 56 large cities across the country, Rosenfeld found a 17% increase in homicide in 2015. Much of that increase came from only 10 cities, which saw an average 33% increase in homicide.

“These aren’t flukes or blips, this is a real increase,” he said. “It was worrisome. We need to figure out why it happened.”

All 10 cities that saw sudden increases in homicide had large African American populations, he said. While it’s not clear what drove the increases, he said, he believes there is some connection between high-profile protests over police killings of unarmed black men, a further breakdown in black citizens’ trust of the police, and an increase in community violence.

“The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” Rosenfeld said. Now, he said, that’s his “leading hypothesis”.

Other experts have argued that it’s still hard to know whether 2015’s increase in murders was significant, much less what might have caused the trend. The liberal Brennan Center found that increases in homicide last year were localized in only a few cities, and that “community conditions” were likely to blame, rather than “a national pandemic”.

Even if the increase in homicide is significant, there are many competing theories for what may be responsible. The Brennan Center pointed to economic deterioration of struggling neighborhoods. Columnist Shaun King argued last month that the increase in violence in two cities seemed to be caused by police officers “refusing to fully do their jobs”. Local police officials have blamed court system failures, gang dynamics and the proliferation of illegal guns.

Rosenfeld’s new analysis of homicide trends, which was was funded by the Department of Justice, is currently being reviewed by department officials and has not yet been released to the public. A justice department spokeswoman said the paper is expected to be released in July.

Probably at 4:59 PM on July 3rd, kind of like how LBJ released the Coleman Report in 1966.

The question of whether there is any link between protests over police mistreatment of black Americans and an increase in violence in some black neighborhoods has been a political flashpoint for the past year. Conservative writer Heather Mac Donald warned in May 2015 that protests over police behavior would only backfire on black citizens.

“Unless the demonization of law enforcement ends, the liberating gains in urban safety over the past 20 years will be lost,” she wrote. Her op-ed, titled The New Nationwide Crime Wave, sparked a months-long debate.

The Obama administration repeatedly denied that there is any evidence of a “Ferguson effect”, while FBI director James Comey reiterated his suggestion that violent crime was increasing because of “a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year.” Protesters said the conservative focus on the Ferguson effect is an attempt to undermine the movement to reform American policing. …

Comey reignited the debate on Wednesday, telling reporters that the continued increase in violence was a serious problem that national media outlets were choosing to ignore. He said that private conversations with police officials across the country convinced him that “marginal pullbacks by lots and lots of police officers” afraid of being the subject of the next viral video of police misconduct might be contributing to the increase.

“The people dying are almost entirely black and Latino men,” he said. “It’s a complicated, hard issue, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. A whole lot of people are dying. I don’t want to drive around it.”

The White House clashed with Comey last year over his previous comments on policing and crime increases, and the administration has repeatedly pushed back against the idea of a “Ferguson effect”. Obama himself cautioned against trying to “cherry-pick” crime data last year, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that while the idea of the Ferguson effect had been bolstered by anecdotes, “there’s no data to support it”.

Other than that 17% increase in homicides from 2014 to 2015.

Chicago, Obama’s hometown, has seen more than 1,000 shooting incidents so far this year, compared with about 600 incidents during the same period last year. Murders in Chicago are up 56%, with 70 more people murdered so far this year than last year. …

Some protesters and law enforcement leaders criticized Comey for advancing a theory without national data to back it up. …

Serpas cited a series of influential reports from the liberal Brennan Center that found no change in overall crime in 2015 in the nation’s 30 largest cities, and only a slight increase in violent crime.

The Brennan Center analysis did find that the murder rate had increased 13.2% in the nation’s 30 largest cities, but it downplayed this finding. “While this suggests cause for concern in some cities, murder rates vary widely from year to year, and there is little evidence of a national coming wave in violent crime,” the report noted.

Crimes rate have generally been on a downward trend since perhaps the late 1970s, in part because crime doesn’t pay as well anymore. Property crime is way down due to target hardening and other developments in technology: for example, stealing cars was easy in the 1960s, so manufacturers made it harder to steal cars. So thieves switched to stealing car stereos, which were worth less, so those were made harder to steal. Moreover, information technology, such as the GPS location recording systems that everybody carries around with them now, are making a life of crime ever less plausible of a career track.

In other words, crime should be falling a few percent per year.

The three cities that had seen the biggest increases in murder “all seem to have falling populations, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than the national average,” the Brennan Center report concluded. “Economic deterioration of these cities could be a contributor to murder increases.”

Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri St Louis and the chair of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends, said the Brennan Center’s focus on the economic roots of violence was not enough to explain “why homicide increased as much as it did in these cities in a one-year period”.

“The conclusion one draws from the Brennan Center’s report is, ‘Not much changed,’ and that is simply not true. In the case of homicide, a lot did change, in a very short period of time,” he said.

While “economic disadvantage is an extraordinarily important predictor of the level of homicide in cities,” he said, “there’s no evidence of a one year substantial economic decline in those cities. There have to be other factors involved.”

The idea of a “Ferguson effect” was coined in 2014 by St Louis police chief Samuel Dotson. The same year that Ferguson saw massive protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, St Louis saw a 32.5% increase in homicides. “The criminal element is feeling empowered by the environment,” St Louis’s police chief argued, blaming the increase in crime on what he called “the Ferguson effect”, and arguing that the police department needed to hire 180 more officers.

That claim was picked up in May 2015 by Mac Donald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute which had published a researcher’s 1996 warning about the purported rise of “juvenile super-predators”.

Samuel Sinyangwe, a co-founder of Mapping Police Violence and Campaign Zero, called the conservative focus on the Ferguson effect “a reactionary attempt to undermine the movement”.

“It has been the attempt to put across this narrative that any criticism of the police is dangerous to society,” he said.

That kind of political rhetoric has been used against civil rights advocates in the past. Opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act argued that “civil rights would engender a crime wave”, Yale political scientist Vesla Weaver wrote in an article on how arguments about crime were used to attack and undermine African Americans’ fight for equal rights.

Well, of course, civil rights did engender a crime wave, a giant one that did horrific damage to much of urban America, which got going right about 1964. But who can remember such details when we need to spend all our time remembering the really important history like Emmett Till?

A closer look at many of the statistics Mac Donald used to bolster her thesis showed they did not provide sufficient evidence of a nationwide crime wave, criminologist Frank Zimring argued last year.

When Rosenfeld analyzed St Louis’s crime data, he found the increase in homicides there could not have been caused by a “Ferguson effect”, because the greatest increase came early in the year, months before Michael Brown’s death or the protests that followed.

Rosenfeld’s research was widely cited in articles debunking the Ferguson effect.

But that paper only looked at the evidence for the effect in one city. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the justice department’s research arm, Rosenfeld did a new study early this year that looked that more broadly at homicide trends in the nation’s 56 largest cities and found an overall 17% increase in homicide.

As a result of that broader national analysis he said, he has had “second thoughts” about the Ferguson effect. “My views have been altered.”

Looking at the additional homicides in large cities, he found that two-thirds of the increase was concentrated in 10 cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Washington, Nashville, Philadelphia, Kansas City and St Louis.

Those 10 cities had somewhat higher levels of poverty than the other cities he examined. But, he said, the “key difference” was that “their African American population was substantially larger than other large cities”: an average of 41% in those 10 cities, compared with 19.9% in the others.

Separate analyses looked at two of these cities in 2015 and early 2016. A FiveThirtyEight assessment of Chicago crime data concluded that the city’s increase in gun violence was statistically significant, that the spike dated back to the release of the video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and that it was closely correlated with a drop in police arrests. Researchers in Baltimore found a similar correlation between a drop in arrests and an increase in violence in the wake of protests over Freddie Gray’s death, and concluded that while the Ferguson effect played no role in Baltimore’s rising violence, a “Freddie Gray effect” may have been a significant factor.

Violence has many complex causes, and decades of exhaustive research has shed only partial light. Even the dramatic drop in violence and crime since the early 1990s – the most basic fact about crime in America – is not fully understood.

No, the most basic fact about crime in America, which has almost been completely forgotten by the press, is that crime went way up in the 1960s and 1970s when liberals took charge of race in America.

In trying to understand 2015’s murder trends, Rosenfeld looked for reasons why cities that already struggled with high levels of violence might see “a precipitous and very abrupt increase”.

Rosenfeld considered two potential alternative explanations: the US heroin epidemic, and the number of former inmates returning home from prison. Neither of these explanations quite lined up with the increase in violence, he said. For instance, the country has been in the midst of a heroin epidemic since 2011. Why there would be a four to five year lag before the epidemic caused murders to spike?

Another possibility, however, is that the Mexican cartels peddling heroin in America have topped out on their target market of nonviolent white people — nobody much cared about white people quietly offing themselves — and are now expanding their business by finally dealing with black urban gangs, which they had tried to avoid before.

Mexico’s drug gangs have been insanely violent in Mexico but discreet in America. Sam Quinones got in with one Mexican outfit of heroin dealers in flyover America, the Xalisco Boys, for his book Dreamland and reported:

They are decidedly nonviolent — terrified, in fact, of battles for street corners with armed gangs. They don’t carry guns. They also have rules against selling to African-Americans because, as one dealer put it, “they’ll steal from you, and beat you.”

The Boys started out on the fringes of the drug world in West Coast cities. In the late 1990s, they moved east in search of virgin territory. They avoided New York City, the country’s traditional center of heroin, because the market was already run by entrenched gangs. … They also skipped cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, where black gangs control distribution.

The Xalisco Boys migrated instead to prosperous midsize cities. These cities were predominantly white, but had large Mexican populations where the Boys could blend in. They were the first to open these markets to cheap, potent black-tar heroin in a sustained way. The map of their outposts amounts to a tour through our new heroin hubs: Nashville, Columbus and Charlotte, as well as Salt Lake City, Portland and Denver.

But maybe now the Mexican heroin mobs are dealing with black gangs in places like Baltimore and St. Louis? As we saw with crack a quarter of a century ago or the powder cocaine wars of 1980, when urban black gangs get a hot drug, they tend to shoot each other in large numbers in turf wars.

On the other hand, this heroin idea is mostly pure speculation on my part. It goes back to my 1999 debate with economist Steven “Freakonomics” Levitt in Slate when he asked when I figured murder rates would go back up again. I said: eventually there will be a new drug.

But the government’s strategy has been more sophisticated than I anticipated in 1999. Crack was so apocalyptic that the government seems to have been following a multimodal drug war strategy that has been pretty effective:

- Come down extremely hard with imprisonment on drugs that make people more violent, like cocaine.

- Err on the side of downer drugs that make people more passive, like heroin

- Err on the side of abuse of legal drugs, like prescription painkillers

- Err on the side of a multiplicity of drugs so that we don’t get back to a situation like crack cocaine in 1990 or powder cocaine in 1980.

So in the 21st Century the government eased up on prescription painkillers. But so many people started getting addicted and overdosing that it eventually tightened up, which gave an opening to Mexican heroin dealers. That has turned out to be such a disaster that white life expectancy actually declined in the latest statistics.

Mexican heroin dealers were cautious about staying in flyover country that nobody cares about and avoiding big cities with their violent drug gangs and media presence that made Miami world famous (except to economists) in the Scarface / Miami Vice era. In contrast to the glamorous Miami powder cocaine boom of 1980 and the West Coast / East Coast gangsta rap-fueled crack cocaine boom of 1988-1994, the Mexican / redneck heroin bubble of the 2010s has been pretty dismal and downscale, so almost nobody paid attention to it.

We’ll see what happens next.

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From the NYT:

Murder Rates Jump in Many Major U.S. Cities, New Data Shows

WASHINGTON — More than 20 major cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, have seen large increases in murders in recent months, a spike that the director of the F.B.I. linked to less aggressive policing stemming from a “viral video effect.”

The new data released Friday showed clashing trend lines across the country, with many cities seeing a sharp increase in murders while rates in others — including New York and Miami — were down significantly from last year.

Unfortunately, I can’t yet find this data online.

Update: Commenter Drake found it here.

After receiving an advance look at the data, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., expressed alarm Wednesday about the spike in murders in some major cities. Reigniting the debate over a “Ferguson effect,” he told reporters that he believed the trend could be linked to a “viral video effect” because officers were being less aggressive for fear of ending up on videos.

The White House distanced itself from Mr. Comey on the issue, named after Ferguson, Mo., where the 2014 shooting of an unarmed black man set off protests and rioting.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, told reporters Thursday that “there still is no evidence to substantiate the claim that the increase in violent crime is related to an unwillingness of police officers to do their job.”

Mr. Earnest said the president saw a false choice in any notion that police officers must decide between fighting crime and doing so in a fair way.

The White House and the F.B.I. clashed over the issue last fall as well, when Mr. Comey made similar remarks about anecdotal reports he was receiving about less aggressive policing. He indicated that the latest data — which came from polling of more than 60 cities by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association — left him even more concerned about some officers backing off from confronting suspects.

The Washington Post found an increase across the 50 biggest cities in homicides from 2014 to 2015 of over 16 percent. That’s a big change for one year. And that’s not including St. Louis (Greater Ferguson), which isn’t big enough to make the top 50.

Another thing that might be going on is that the Mexican heroin dealers have started pushing smack in the big cities, stirring up the black gangs. Sam Quinones’s book Dreamland reported that about a half decade ago, Mexican heroin dealers were concentrating on selling heroin in white rural areas because nobody important in America much cares about white hillbillies quietly dying of overdoses (you’ll notice that nobody talked about the White Death in the media until the new Nobel Economics laureate Angus Deaton brought it up right after he won his award). But, according to Quinones, back then Mexican heroin retailers considered African Americans to be hotheaded and violent and thus to be avoided.

But that kind of prudence among foreign drug dealers can seldom last, and now Mexican heroin is spreading to black ghettos, with predictable results in terms of blacks shooting blacks:

From the NYT last month:

Crime Spike in St. Louis Traced to Cheap Heroin and Mexican Cartels

… The death of Ms. Walker was linked by the authorities to a violent St. Louis street gang with ties to a Mexican drug cartel that in the past has supplied marijuana and cocaine throughout the Midwest. In recent years, however, Mexican traffickers have inundated the St. Louis area with a new, potent form of heroin, drastically reducing prices for the drug and increasing its strength to attract suburban users.

The dispersal of the cheap heroin has led to a surge in overdoses, addiction and violence in cities across the country.

Besides St. Louis — where the problem is particularly acute — Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Philadelphia have attributed recent spikes in homicides in part to an increase in the trafficking of low-cost heroin by Mexican cartels working with local gangs.

“The gangs have to have a lot of customers because the heroin is so cheap,” said Gary Tuggle, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief in Philadelphia, who observed the same phenomenon while overseeing the agency’s Baltimore office. ”What we are seeing is these crews becoming more violent as they look to expand their turf.” …

In a trend mimicked in large cities nationally, many of the heroin consumers in St. Louis are young whites in their 20s, who drive into the city from suburbs and distant rural areas, the police say. And while most heroin overdose victims here are white, nearly all of the shooting victims and suspects in St. Louis this year have been African-American men and boys, police data shows.

“What I’m seeing at street level are violent disputes about money owed around heroin debts, with sometimes the dispute being about money, and sometimes about drugs,” said D. Samuel Dotson III, the police chief of St. Louis.

In 2014, St. Louis had the highest homicide rate of any city with more than 100,000 people.

Ferguson started in August 2014 and impacted policing across the St. Louis area.

Its 157 homicides that year increased by 18 percent in 2015 to 188, and while the rate has slowed in the initial months of this year, St. Louis is again on pace to be among the nation’s most dangerous big cities.

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Screenshot 2016-07-21 19.57.24

From the Washington Post:

More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why
By Max Ehrenfreund and Denise Lu
Jan. 27, 2016

The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century.

A Wonkblog analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990.

The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators were warning that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police. They said protests and intense scrutiny of officers who used lethal force had caused officers to become disengaged from their jobs, making streets more dangerous. Some have called it the “Ferguson effect,” after the St. Louis suburb in which Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014.

Alternatively, the anti-cop / anti-white agitation could be stimulating blacks to shoot each other out of what Keynes called “animal spirits.” Or maybe something is going on in the drug trade. Perhaps heroin is spreading from the white hinterlands to the black inner cities? (I’m not at all in touch with what’s going down on the streets. For that matter, has anybody said “What’s going down on the streets” since a 1970s cop show?)

Keep in mind that St. Louis, where the Ferguson Effect (whatever it’s cause) was very large in the first half of 2015, isn’t in these stats because it’s not one of the top 50 cities in the country.

A closer look at the figures, however, suggests no single explanation for the increases and reveals no clear pattern among those cities that experienced the most horrific violence.

Several cities that recorded the largest increases in homicides — Nashville and Washington, D.C., for instance — had no widely publicized, racially charged killings by police. Many other big cities recorded modest increases or even declines in the number of homicides, with no deviation from the pattern of recent years.

13 cities had fewer homicides in 2015 than in 2014

36 cities had more homicides in 2015 than in 2014

The worst increase in percent terms was in Cleveland (+91%, Tamir Rice). Baltimore (Freddie Gray) was up 59%. St. Louis (Michael Brown), which is too small to make the 50 biggest city list, increased from 73 in 2003 to 159 in 2014 to 188 in 2015.

A general pattern was that increases in homicides, especially in absolute number terms, tended to be larger in cities with large black populations than in cities with large Hispanic populations. For example, the Post provided this graphic of California and Texas:

Screenshot 2016-01-28 20.46.59

Also, Hispanic cities have smaller numbers of murders per capita than black cities, so their data can be noisier from year to year just from smaller sample sizes. In contrast, Baltimore had 346 homicides last year, up 59% from 204, which is a pretty big sample size. In contrast, Denver’s homicide rate grew 65%, even faster than Baltimore’s, but Denver still only had 51 homicides in 2015. So, it’s not clear how significant Denver’s change from 2014 to 2015 was.

So, something seems to have gotten black slum dwellers agitated enough to kill each other in considerable numbers. Perhaps it’s all the agitation by black protestors working hand in glove with the Administration, the media, and the NGOs? That’s happened before, back in the 1960s. But the 1960s were a long time ago, so a lot of hard-earned lessons have been forgotten.

• Tags: Black Crime, Crime, Homicide, Race 
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Back in the previous decade, you could look up on the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics website a convenient graph in HTML form of “homicide offending” trends over time.

But the Obama Administration stopped maintaining that website (you can still find it here on’s Wayback Machine). As of 2011 they made you look up the racial ratio in homicide offending rates in a less convenient PDF report. Here’s a screen capture of the homicide offending rates by race graph from that 2011 PDF:

Screenshot 2015-11-08 21.41.07

But in 2013, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics dropped the homicide offending numbers from their latest homicide report in favor of only mentioning homicide victimization.

While that seems petty, it makes it easier for SJWs to fantasize about evil white men gunning down black baby bodies. And that matters more than knowing the numbers.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Crime, Homicide, Homicide Rate, Race, The Gap 
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From Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight:

Murder Rates Don’t Tell Us Everything About Gun Violence


… Around 34 percent of nearly 3,000 shooting incidents in Baltimore since 2010 have ended in a fatality. Baltimore is on pace for a large jump in the number of murders this year, however, because the city is seeing 60 percent more shootings in 2015 than in 2014. While New Orleans appears to be experiencing a change in luck, Baltimore is experiencing a dramatic jump in gun violence.

Looking more closely at 2015 highlights the spike in gun violence in Baltimore that began in late April and its gradual slowing since the end of July. Despite this slowing, there were still more shooting incidents in September than there were in any month from 2010 to 2014.

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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Occam’s Rubber Room

by Steve Sailer

In the 14th century, the English philosopher William of Ockham introduced what has come to be known as Occam’s Razor for its usefulness in slicing through intellectual bloviations: Among competing theories that predict equally well, the simplest should be preferred.

About a decade ago, I coined the term Occam’s Butterknife to characterize the contemporary liberal insistence upon implausibly convoluted explanations.

But now that race man Ta-Nehisi Coates is back with a giant article in The Atlantic about “The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality,” I need a more all-encompassing term to describe this increasingly fashionable rejection of reality. Let’s try: Occam’s Rubber Room.

Read the whole thing there.

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Homicides 2015 v 2014

To disprove “scare headlines” about a rise in crime following the Ferguson agitation (which started 8/9/2014), the good folks at ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight have assembled homicide data for 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country for 1/1/2014 through 8/8/2014 and for 1/1/2015 through 8/8/2015:

Scare Headlines Exaggerated The U.S. Crime Wave

A full list of the top 60 cities gives a more nuanced picture.


… The wave of crime-wave reporting began this spring with NPR, CNN, the BBC and USA Today, based on just a handful of cities. In August, after the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) announced results of a survey of a few dozen of its members about crime in their cities, many other outlets — including Reuters, Voice of America and Time — added to the chorus. And last week, The New York Times put the crime wave on its front page, saying that “cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders.” The Times article was accompanied by a chart showing crime trends in 10 cities, which in turn provoked refutations from The Washington Post and the Marshall Project, based on fewer than 20 cities each.

I’ve taken FiveThirtyEight’s table of data and created the graph above, with cities that have seen an increase in homicide numbers in red and cities that have seen a decrease in green.

It looks like the “scare headlines” were right.

There’s always a lot of randomness in homicide stats, but consider this: the biggest decline in absolute number of homicides was in Boston, with 15 fewer dead bodies so far in 2015 than in the same time period in 2014. In contrast, among the cities with increases in homicide, a dozen cities have gone up more dead bodies than Boston went down (with Baltimore leading the way with 77 more homicides).

How about cities with changes, up or down, of at least 5 homicides? Three cities had declines of that magnitude or greater, 30 had increases.

Summing across all 59 cities, homicides were up 16%. That’s a scary 482 more dead bodies so far in 2015 v. 2014.

And as this graph shows, the trend is pretty widespread, especially in the blacker cities.

You could argue that the trend wouldn’t be quite so obvious if you left out the top two increases in homicides: Baltimore (Freddy Gray) and St. Louis (Michael Brown). But, of course, that just increases the evidence that this homicide wave is related to the campaign by Eric Holder and friends against the police.

#BlackLivesMatter = #BlackDeathsDon’tMatter

So how big is this change in homicides? The FiveThirtyEight guys go on at some length about statistical significance in each city, but here’s a neat example over almost exactly the same time period that helps you get a better feel for how confident you can be: according to the National Golf Foundation, the number of rounds of golf played in the first 7 months of 2015 is up 0.4% versus the first 7 months of 2014.

Does that mean the Golf Recession is finally over after a decade and a half?

Eh, hard to say. If you look at individual markets, you can see that many are up and many are down. A lot of golf rounds played statistics depend upon the weather, which the NGF report includes to help you interpret whether trends are climatic flukes or not. So far this year, the best market for golf has been the Twin Cities in Minnesota, which are up 14%, while the worst is Houston, down 13% (maybe due to oil prices being down?).

Milwaukee, which has had a 76% increase in homicides, is also up 10% in terms of rounds of golf. Perhaps nice weather is to blame for both?

My guess would be that homicides are more statistically volatile than rounds of golf because they are so few in number in many places. If Arlington, Texas is down from 8 murders in the first 7.25 months of 2014 to 4 in the same time period in 2015, well, randomness is probably playing a big role.

But, still … this graph suggests that our society insisting that blacks should be angry at law & order has led to more blacks killing each other in substantially black cities. No doubt that’s not the only reason for what we see on this graph, but it sure looks like the most obvious reason.

Hopefully, this trend won’t continue. People sometimes learn from past mistakes. In the mid-1990s, for example, a lot of people figured out that the trigger-happy crack-dealer lifestyle that seemed so glamorous on their gangsta rap albums wasn’t a good idea at all.

P.S. More on this topic here.

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Before and After

A New York Times article reporting on a sharp increase in homicides over the last year in places like Milwaukee, Baltimore and St. Louis led to much tut-tutting from outlets like Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight about how this was cherrypicking and all around Bad Science .

So now FiveThirtyEight has rounded up the homicide numbers for 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country for, as close as they can measure, for 2014 before Michael Brown’s death on August 9, 2014 and for the same stretch in 2015. Here’s how they spin their analysis:

Scare Headlines Exaggerated The U.S. Crime Wave

A full list of the top 60 cities gives a more nuanced picture.



If you’ve read reports of a U.S. crime wave this year and wondered how many cities it was really affecting, you’re not alone. We’ve spent the last week trying to answer that question and have compiled 2015 homicide data for nearly all of the 60 biggest cities. The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.

But that doesn’t come close to reversing the long-term decline in homicides. And it’s a less dire picture than the one painted by reports in several large media outlets, which generally highlighted those cities that have suffered the biggest increase in homicides.

The reports have been based on just a small, possibly cherry-picked sampling of cities. The country’s broken crime-data system makes it impossible to know what’s happening everywhere, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” journalistic imperative means the places we hear about often are the biggest outliers.

Wait a minute, what did you say somewhere in there? Oh, yeah, here’s the actual finding of FiveThirtyEight’s number crunching.

The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.

Wow, that’s horrible.

A better headline might be:

“Scare Headlines about the U.S. Crime Wave Vindicated:
Homicides Up 16% in 59 Biggest Cities Versus Last Year”

I went through FiveThirtyEight’s table and added up all the homicides. In these 59 cities, the total number of homicides in 2014 through approximately August 8, 2014 was 2,955. Through the same period this year, the total number of homicides has been 3,437 for an increase of 482 more dead human beings.

How much of this has been the fault of the campaign by #BlackLivesMatter, the Justice Department, the Soros Foundation, and the national media to demonize police as white racists out to murder black baby bodies? We can get some idea by looking at the two cities most focused upon by the Great and the Good: Baltimore and St. Louis (next door to Ferguson).

In absolute terms, the biggest increase in dead bodies in 2015 came in Baltimore, the 26th biggest population town, with an increase in homicides of 77 from 138 to 215. That’s an increase of 56%.

The second biggest increase in absolute number of dead bodies was in St. Louis, which is only the 60th most populous municipality. But it happens to be next door to Ferguson, where the Eye of Soro came to be so malevolently focused from August 2014 onward. Before Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, there were 85 homicides in St. Louis in 2014. Over the same stretch in 2015, there have been 136, for an increase of 51 dead bodies or 60%.

So, just in the two cities where the media obsession with #BlackLivesMatter has been most ferocious, there has been a year to year increase from 223 homicides to 351 homicides: that’s 128 incremental deaths. That 128 represents 27% of the total increase of 482 dead bodies across the 59 biggest cities.

What percentage of the increase of 482 homicide victims are blacks killed by black? Judging by where the biggest increases in absolute numbers are found, I would guesstimate a very high percentage:

Baltimore: 77 incremental homicides

St. Louis: 51

Chicago: 50

Milwaukee: 45

Houston: 44

Washington: 32

New Orleans: 22

Louisville: 21

New York: 18

Tulsa: 18

The top 5 cities (Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Houston) account for 55% of the extra 482 homicides, and the top 10 account for 78%.

My guess would be that in most years in these cities, a huge fraction of their homicides are blacks killing blacks. So it’s likely a large fraction of the worsening from January 1 through August 8, 2014 (i.e., 2014 before Ferguson) to the same time period in 2015 is comprised of an increase in blacks killing blacks.


A lot of highly respectable institutions have some statistical blood on their hands.

P.S. I’ve created a graph here.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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