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- Murders per 100,000 people increased more in New York state between 2019 and 2020 than they did in Florida and Texas.
- When data from 10 large cities in each state are analyzed, aggravated assaults increased by a greater percentage in Texas and Florida than they did in New York during the same period.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, defended New York state’s bail law amid charges by Republicans and others that changes to it in 2020 are contributing to rising violent crime.
"Cities in notoriously ‘tough on crime’ states like Texas and Florida saw a more significant increase in violent crime than cities in NYS," she said in a statement.
Changes to the bail law were intended to make the system fairer. Advocates said poor people should not remain in jail awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford to post bail, while those who can afford it are released. We wondered if Peoples-Stokes was correct. Did cities in Texas and Florida, where bail laws did not change, also see bigger increases in violent crime?
Because Peoples-Stokes said "cities," we looked at the four violent crime categories -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- in the 10 largest cities in each state during 2020. This is the most recent year with the most complete data available, and we looked at data reported by city police departments and published by the public safety division of each state government.
In general, murders and aggravated assaults increased, while rapes and robberies did not. But we found no clear pattern in the state data among the cities in each state.
There are cities in Florida and Texas where the percentage increase was roughly the same or even higher than the New York cities. In Houston murders increased by 45%. In Fort Worth, they went up 59%. Murders rose 42% in Miami and 76% in Fort Lauderdale.
When we calculated the overall increase among the cities in each state -- disregarding cities that had just a few murders, where a small increase would lead to a large percentage increase -- the increase in New York state came to 46%, compared with 31% in Texas and 22% in Florida.
According to Pew Research Center, which used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, murders rose by 30% between 2019 and 2020 across the country. Pew’s analysis showed that on a statewide basis, per 100,000 people, New York’s increase in murders was higher than the increases in Florida and Texas. The number of homicides per 100,000 remains lower in New York, at 4.7 at the end of 2020, than in Florida, 7.8, and Texas, 7.6.
Robberies fell in all 30 cities, except for San Antonio, Austin and Tampa. New York City reported a 1.6% decline in robberies. Nine of the 10 Florida cities posted bigger percent declines. Eight of the Texas cities had bigger percentage declines.
Overall, the data showed a percentage increase in aggravated assaults in the 10 cities we looked at in each of the three states. In New York, the overall increase was 4%, less than the 21% increases in Florida and in Texas.
The number of reported rapes fell in most cities in each of the three states. Nine of the 10 Florida cities had fewer reported rapes, as did nine of 10 Texas cities. Rapes fell in seven of the 10 New York state cities. The percentage decline in rapes in New York was 19%. Rapes declined in the Florida cities by 15% and in the Texas cities by 17%.
We approached Peoples-Stokes’ office for evidence of her claim, and her staff sent several sources, including a report from November 2020 regarding violent crime rates through Sept. 30, 2020, from the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit organization whose members are high-ranking police officials. The report found a 66% increase in homicides and a 39% increase in aggravated assaults in Fort Worth while El Paso saw a decrease in homicides of 66%. Tampa had an increase in aggravated assaults of 35%. There was no mention of New York cities in the report.
To Peoples-Stokes’ point about the effect of bail law changes in New York, other investigations have found that among people who were released under the 2020 bail changes, few committed violent offenses after release.
Peoples-Stokes said that "cities in notoriously ‘tough on crime’ states like Texas and Florida saw a more significant increase in violent crime than cities in NYS."
It is true some cities in Texas and Florida that saw greater increases in some categories of violent crime than cities in New York state between 2019 and 2020. The percentage increase in aggravated assaults, considered a violent crime, grew more in large cities in Texas and Florida than it did in New York.
But there are also cities in New York state that had greater increases than cities in Texas and Florida. Statewide, the increases in murders per 100,000 people was greater in New York than it was in Texas and in Florida.
Her claim is partially accurate, but leaves out important context. We rate this Half True.
News release, New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, "Facts Not Fear," March 29, 2022. Accessed April 1, 2022.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, "Index Crimes Reported: 2016 – 2020 by County and Agency." Accessed April 11, 2022.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, "Index Crimes for New York State, New York City and non-New York City, 2011-2020." Accessed April 11, 2022.
Texas Department of Public Safety, report, "Crime in Texas 2020," Accessed April 7, 2022.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement, County and Municipal Offense report, 2020. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement, County and Municipal Offense report, 2019. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Pew Research Center, "What we know about the increase in U.S. murders in 2020," Oct. 27, 2021. Accessed April 12, 2022.
Salon, "Republicans blame Democrats for crime — but new data shows higher murder rates in red states," March 16, 2022. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Third Way, report, "The Red State Murder Problem," March 15, 2022. Accessed April 6, 2022.
Brennan Center for Justice, "The Facts on Bail Reform and Crime Rates in New York State," March 22, 2022.
Email, phone interview, Anthony J.P. Thompson, communication coordinator, New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, April 6, 2022.
National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, "Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime in U.S. Cities," March 2021 Update. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Police Executive Research Forum, Critical Issues Report, November 18, 2020. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Police Executive Research Forum, Critical Issues Report, November 19, 2020. Accessed April 11, 2022.
CNN, "Fact-checking claims bail reform is driving increase in violent crime," July 7, 2021. Accessed April 7, 2022.
New York Post, "NYPD’s own stats debunk claims of bail reform leading to spike in gun violence," July 8, 2020. Accessed April 7, 2022.
Email interview, Candace McCoy, J.D., Ph.D., professor, doctoral program in criminal justice, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, April 5, 2022.
Email interview, Jonathan Reid, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, Sam Houston State University, April 5, 2022.
Email interview, Brian J. Stults, Ph.D., associate professor, Florida State University, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, April 7, 2022.
The Buffalo News, "As bail debate persists, data shows few rearrested in Buffalo for violent felonies," March 28, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.
The Times-Union, "GOP questions state's bail data; updated data show 2% of bail offenses led to rearrests on violent felonies," Jan. 12, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.
New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, "NYC Comptroller’s Office Analysis Finds Bail Continues to Drive Pretrial Detention, Despite Reforms," March 22, 2022. Accessed April 11, 2022.
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