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Horowitz: Murder rate surging in 2020 as COVID policies keep criminals out of jail


Crime pandemic


Aside from the viral epidemic, 2020 will be remembered for a crime epidemic that broke the back of the criminal justice system, which has successfully reduced crime since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, criminals continue to be kept out of jail and prison in order to keep "social distancing" in prisons, when data show they have a lower fatality rate than the rest of the population. More criminals on the streets, more crime, and less freedom for law abiding citizens. What will 2021 bring us?

On Monday, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) released an updated crime data report, which examined weekly changes in major crime offenses across 28 cities from January 2020 through October 2020. The findings were quite alarming.

Overall, homicide rates between June and October 2020 increased by 36% compared to the same period in 2019 in 21 cities, amounting to 610 more lost lives than last year. Aggravated assaults increased by 15% in the summer and 13% in the fall of 2020 over the same period last year; gun assaults increased by 15% and 16%. Residential burglaries, on the other hand, declined significantly because so many people remain at home.

NCCCJ is a program created by the Council of Criminal Justice in July and is co-chaired by former U.S. Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch.

The study observed, "The precipitous rise in homicide and assaults in the late spring of 2020 coincided with the emergence of mass protests after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, although the connection, if any, between the social unrest and heightened violence remains uncertain."

While the rise of Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioting certainly contributed to the rise in vandalism, arson, and assaults, there have only been a few homicides traced back to the riots. What the study fails to point out is that the increase in homicide is mainly from career criminals who are increasingly not locked up, especially while awaiting trial. The other variable this year, aside from the "protests," is the mass de-incarceration under the guise of protecting prisoners from the spread of COVID.

The NCCCJ study concluded:

Finally, policymakers must take police reform seriously. Protesters have called for increasing accountability for police misconduct and shifting functions such as addressing the day-to-day problems of the homeless and responding to drug overdoses to other agencies and personnel better equipped to handle them.

But what does that have to do with the increase in homicide? So, unless they enact "police reform," the beatings and murder will continue? Most murder is gang-related. Are they really murdering in order to protest "police misconduct"? Sure, there is more murder because police are taking a hands-off approach on the streets, but how does handcuffing police help that?

The reality is that there are more potential murderers on the street, not to be deterred by police in any capacity. According to UCLA's data tracking on COVID-related incarceration releases, over 123,000 criminals have been released from prison and jail this year because of COVID-19, capping several years of gradual release under other jailbreak programs. On top of that, there are countless thousands of new criminals who are not being locked up initially because of the stigma against adding to the prison population at a time like this. Judges are increasingly taking this into account.

Now it turns out that all the deaths that will result from these criminals on the streets were built on a false premise that prisons would be deaths traps, with the virus killing prisoners at a higher rate than the general population.

In the early spring, the ACLU warned that "detention centers would be petri dishes for the spread of COVID-19 — and a death trap for thousands of people in civil detention." But in reality, they indeed were good petri dishes to study what would happen if the virus actually spread to a fully confined population. And it turns out it's not the death trap the ACLU envisioned – not any worse than it is in the general population. Yes, the virus spreads far and wide in confined spaces, but as we've seen from the natural epidemiological case study of prisons, most people are asymptomatic and very few required hospitalization.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that despite the widespread transmission of the virus in prisons, "the case-fatality ratio, or the percentage of coronavirus cases that are fatal, is lower among inmates than the broader population." According to their data, the case-fatality rate among inmates was about 0.7%, one-third that of the general population (2.1%).

Now, obviously, the true fatality rate is likely not that much better in prison, because case fatality rates only measure the deaths against the known cases. In jails and prisons, a much larger percentage of the true infections have been confirmed through mass testing than among the general public. But it still appears, based on overall deaths per 100,000, that the fatality rate among the incarcerated population is at least somewhat lower than the general population.

There are roughly 2.2 million incarcerated individuals in the country, and as of Dec. 1, according to the UCLA tracking project, there were 1,449 COVID deaths among inmates. That is a death rate of 65.9 per 100,000. At 269K COVID deaths in the general population, that would be 81 deaths per capita.

While it is true that prisoners are a younger population, they also have a lot of underlying conditions. Plus, the population is disproportionately black and Hispanic. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 death rate among black and Hispanic people is three times higher than among white people. If the premise of those pushing for corona jailbreak were correct, we'd be seeing a bloodbath in prisons relative to the population. That is simply not playing out.

Thus, the same overstating of the severity of the virus, along with overstating our ability to stop the spread, that has spawned the criminalization of human living has also wrongly enabled the release of thousands of dangerous criminals. We are the criminals, and the criminals are the victims.

After all, the only crime that is considered serious by our governing elites is not wearing a mask. And given that most violent criminals seem to be wearing masks, there is nothing to see here.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article described the NCCCJ report as spanning January 2017-October 2020. The correct span is January 2020-October 2020. The article has been corrected.

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