Report, Human rights & justice, Global Justice Lab, Munk School

Violent crime and public prosecution

A review of recent data on homicide, robbery, and progressive prosecution in the United States

This report analyzes recent data on homicide and robbery to understand whether there is a relationship between violent crime and “progressive prosecution.” We pooled data on recorded crime from 65 major cities, conducted a statistical regression of trends in violent crime as well as larceny in two dozen cities, and compared the incidence of homicide before and after the election of progressive prosecutors in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, cities where we are conducting on-going research on changes in criminal justice. We also compared trends in recorded crime across all counties in Florida and California since 2015. We find no evidence to support the claim that progressive prosecutors were responsible for the increase in homicide during the pandemic or before it. We recommend that further statistical analyses of data on violent crime be supplemented by qualitative research and direct evidence about the practices of prosecutors in cities that recorded divergent patterns in homicide.