Right now, the media is downplaying America’s surging homicide rates by saying, “it was still much worse in the 90s.” If you search corporate media articles about homicide, you will see this claim over and over.
Portland, Memphis, Birmingham, Louisville, and St. Louis are fives cities setting new records for their homicide rates. There are many more.
The two biggest reasons for the decline in homicides rates after the so-called “crack wars” of the 90s, was an increasing average age and the embrace of tough-on-crime policies at the city, state, and federal levels. From 1990 to 2010, the average age increased 5.3 years, from 32.9 to 37.2. Today the average age is 38.4. A higher average age general corresponds to lower rates of violent crime, especially homicides. Most people who commit homicide do so at a young age.
While the average age is still high, many US cities and states have wholly reversed their tough-on-crime policies.
We have already covered Portland at length. The current homicide rate in Portland right now dwarfs anything the city has ever experienced before.
1993: 213, the former all-time record, (estimated population 870k, 24.6 homicide per 100k)
2020: 330, a new all-time record by a large margin (estimated population 1,156k, 28.5 homicides per 100k)
During the first 6.5 months of 2021, Memphis already had 140 homicides. More than the same period in 2020.
1992: 141, the former all-time record (estimated population 247k, 57 homicides per 100k)
2014: 63, lowest ever since Birmingham began keeping track
2020: 122, new all-time record the highest homicide rate (estimated population 209k, 58.4 homicides per 100k)
For the first five months of 2021, Birmingham had about the same amount of homicides as the same period in 2020.
2016: 117, the former all-time record
2020: 172, the new all-time record
Louisville, KY shattered all records for homicides in 2020 by a large margin. Louisville had 115 homicides during the first seven months of 2021. Almost as much as the former all-time record for the entire year of 2016.
St. Louis, MO:
1993: 267 homicides, all-time record (estimated population 382k, 69.9 homicides per 100k)
2019: 194 homicides
2020: 262 homicides, all-time record homicide rate (estimated population 308k, 85 homicides per 100k)
Note: St. Louis homicides are down in 2021 compared to 2020, but still, rival the homicide rate of 1993.
St. Louis was one of the deadliest cities in the entire Western Hemisphere in 2020.
Note: Some media outlets have falsely claimed that 2020 was the highest homicide rate in St. Louis “in fifty years.” That is false. St. Louis has only been keeping records since 1970. It was the highest ever since the city has kept track.