After decades of declining violent crime in California, murder and other crimes have been increasing for the past two years. Preliminary data from the state’s biggest cities indicate that 2020’s murder rate increase of 30% over 2019 wasn’t an aberration.
Official 2021 data won’t be available until well into 2022, but an analysis of preliminary numbers in the state’s four biggest cities shows more murders in 2021 than in 2020.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the number of murders is 17% higher in 2021 compared to 2020. The increase in the four studied cities are as follows:
- Oakland: 38% increase
- Los Angeles: 17% increase
- San Diego: 11% increase
- San Francisco: 5% increase
Violent crimes in general (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) increased an average of 5%. Property crime reached its lowest level since 1960 in 2020. While that’s good news, 2021 showed that statistic trending upward, increasing by 7%.
Putting the last two years in a greater context, the state is still well below the rate of violent crime it experienced in the early 1990s.
California’s Highest Homicide Rate
One unfortunate steady fact is that Kern County has had the highest homicide rate of any California county since 2016. According to the Department of Justice, Kern County’s murder rate in 2020 was 12.7 per 100,000 residents. With a county population of about 900,000, that means one in every 8,000 people is killed.
The county’s biggest city, Bakersfield, set a record in 2020 with 45 homicides. That record didn’t stand long. With more than a month to go in 2021, 57 homicides had been recorded.
There are many hypotheses about why murders are on the rise: joblessness, easy availability of firearms, gang activity, and the pandemic, among others.
Murder Rate Increases Across the U.S.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. murder rate increased 30% between 2019 and 2020. The rate hike is the biggest year-over-year increase since 1905. Importantly, the 1905 upturn was partly due to more states providing data to the national death registry and doesn’t necessarily reflect an actual increase. The FBI’s data shows 21,570 murders in 2020 versus 16,669 in 2019.
Other interesting U.S. murder statistics from 2020 include the following:
- Firearms were involved in 77% of murders (73% in 2019).
- The percentage of murders solved declined from 61% in 2019 to 54% in 2020.
- The U.S. murder rate is still below the levels of the early 1990s.
- Americans are still more likely to die from another cause, including suicide and drug overdose.
Americans’ opinions about violent crime coincide with the increase. In June 2020 Pew Center Research Survey, 41% said that violent crime is a big problem. By July 2021, 61% said it was a big problem.
Skilled Legal Representation for Every Defendant
At Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC, we believe strongly in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Every defendant has the right to counsel. The quality of that counsel can make a difference between jail and freedom. Because our attorneys are former prosecutors, we have unique insight not found at many other law firms.
Anyone charged with murder has the most at stake. Quality legal counsel is a must.
If you face violent crime charges, contact us immediately. The sooner we are on the case, the more we will be able to help. Call (949) 251-0330 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.