Adding an additional note of urgency to reports about the homicide spike last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released data on Wednesday showing that the murder rate for the U.S. rose 30 percent between 2019 and 2020, the highest increase recorded in modern history, according to CNN. This research confirms through public health data a rise in homicide that so far had only been identified through crime statistics. The new data show the U.S. homicide rate increased from about six homicides per 100,000 people in 2019 to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2020, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “It is the largest increase in 100 years,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at NCHS.
The figures will provide more fodder for conservative opponents of justice reform. Writing in an op ed for The New York Post, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed the rise on “woke politicians.” Offering little evidence to back up his claim, Sessions wrote: “Tragically, they ignored the warnings of law-enforcement officials and abandoned policies shown to work, replacing them with naïveté and wishful thinking…. Woke policies make America more dangerous.” But a survey of major city police departments released in late September 2021 by the Police Executive Research Forum showed that the increase in homicides slowed significantly in the first seven months of 2021. Moreover, the toll of some 21,500 people killed last year is still well below the record set during the violence of the early 1990s.