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by Peter Moskos

June 30, 2015

Homicides down in Baltimore (but still up)

You know how all them criminal justice "experts" say it's inevitable that homicides go up in the summer? Well for at least the second year in a row, homicides in Baltimore are down, June compared to May.

After the riot, homicides more than doubled.

Pre-April 27, 2015: 0.58 homicides a day.

April 28 - May 31, 2015: 1.44 homicides a day.

June 1 - 29, 2015: 1.0 homicide a day.

Before the riots, homicides were up in Baltimore about 30 percent compared to 2014.

Post-riot, Balto homicides are up about 75 percent compared to the same time last year. Shootings even more so.

42 people were killed this year in May, but no, "regression to the mean" is not inevitable when it comes to people killing each other. Not included a body or two dropped tonight, the good news, I suppose, is we're down to just 1 murder each and every day.

Of the 144 people killed so far this year in Baltimore: 131 are male, 127 are black, 122 were shot. 104 victims, 72 percent of the total, win the trifecta by being all three.


Adam said...

I'd be curious to hear your assessment of this Baltimore Sun op-ed -- Is the Ferguson Effect a Myth? -- written by a couple criminologists.

"[R]ecent highly publicized events in Ferguson, New York City and Baltimore may pose a 'legitimacy challenge' to the criminal justice system, creating a legitimacy deficit that increases legal cynicism and encourages individuals to take the law into their own hands. This — rather than the Ferguson Effect — may account for the rising death rates in cities throughout the U.S."


Moskos said...

Ideological claptrap comes to mind. I mean it's a nice theory, if you frame to frame the debate in a theoretical way. But it comes from a mindset that A) refuses to blame the criminal, B) has little if any connection to life on the streets, and C) sees police as the problem. This is abstract pie-in-sky it's-society's-fault analysis. It's liberal academics grasping for straws to explain something that goes against their worldview.

More academically, I can accept a crisis of legitimacy. But I see it more as an effect than a cause. There is problem of legitimacy in the criminal justice system. People get away with murder. Too many people are in prison. The system simply doesn't work. But the idea that this magically came to being on April 27th in Baltimore is absurd. It's even more absurd if one considers that criminal charges were placed against six police officers soon after that. What could more "legitimizing" than that? Should the officers be convicted, which I doubt, will the murder rate magically go down because of greater perceived legitimacy in the criminal justice system? Don't bet on it.

Was there any increase in the perceived legitimacy of the system in the 1990s when crime went down? No. The facts don't meet the theory.

Sure, if the system worked, if it were more legitimate, if guilty people were caught and fairly punished, fewer people would take the law into their own hands. Absolutely. But how do we go about increasing legitimacy in the system? Do we have to wait until all racism and racists are eliminated? That ain't gonna happen. So now what?

And the system will never be legitimate for those engaged in criminal operations who can't use the law. This isn't new. If we want more legitimacy, end the war on drugs. But in the meantime, if we want to reduce violence we need to focus on those who commit violent criminal acts.

Also, one could just as easily blame #BlackLivesMatter for any crisis of legitimacy, inasmuch as people promote a narrative of a evil police and broken criminal justice system. How is this any different than a Ferguson Effect?

Adam said...

Thanks. Describing the perception-of-legitimacy crisis as an effect rather than a cause is a nice way of putting it.