Sentencing Law and Policy: Encouraging Big-City Homicide Trends Continuing into 2023

By Perla Brito

COLUMBUS, OH – In law Professor Douglas A. Berman’s most recent blog post, he cites a post from Jan. 28, 2023, where he again flagged a AH Datalytics webpage’s “YTD Murder Comparison” Dashboard that collects homicide data from police reports in nearly 100 big cities.

Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and founder of Sentencing Law and Policy, writes a blog that “provides information and commentary about guidelines and capital sentencing.”

In a recent post, Berman writes “that after significant increases in homicides throughout the US in 2020 and 2021, it was encouraging that the dashboard showed that nearly two-thirds of big cities were reporting homicide declines in 2022 relative to 2021 and that nationwide murders in large cities were down nearly 5 percent for 2022.”

He added, “Of course, these reported homicide declines for 2022 followed particularly high homicide rates in many locales in 2021, and we still have a way to go to get back to pre-pandemic homicide levels.”  

“But I found these nationwide big-city data to be encouraging for 2022, especially because in mid-January the downward trends in homicides in our nation’s very largest cities appeared to be carrying over to the start of 2023,” said  Berman. 

He took a look at “a few updated police reports to see if these positive 2023 homicide trends are continuing a couple months later.”

According to Berman, “the encouraging trends are so far persisting” based on the dashboard data and police reports he looked at. 

In Chicago, he notes, homicides were down 14 percent in 2022, and down another 11 percent in the first two months of 2023. In Los Angeles, homicides were down five percent in 2022, and down another 30 percent in the first two months of 2023

In New York City, homicides were down 11 percent in 2022, and down another 19 percent in the first two months of 2023. In Philadelphia, homicides were down nine percent in 2022, and down another 20 percent in the first two months of 2023/

Berman argued that “these four very big cities are not fully representative of what may be going on with homicides nationwide as 2023 shifts into daylight savings and warmer weather.  And homicide trends in the first two months of this year could change in many ways in the weeks and months ahead.”

Yet, Berman added “these encouraging homicide data continue to reinforce my hope that the surging number of homicides in just about every part of the US through 2020 and 2021 were mostly a pandemic era phenomenon and that lower homicide rates may soon be more common.”

About The Author

Perla Brito is a 4th year undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice and is set to graduate by Spring 2023. After graduation she plans on working at a local police department in the criminal investigations division. She intends to pursue a Masters in Psychology with a focus in Neuroscience in hopes of working on neurocriminology research one day.

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