Crime and COVID-19: What the Coronavirus Is Doing to Crime
The coronavirus outbreak remains in full swing throughout North America and the rest of the world. With so many people falling ill, the outbreak has had many wide-reaching effects on people of all kinds. Of course, the disease that’s caused by coronavirus, COVID-19, has hospitalized thousands of people all across the globe. The virus has also led to significant economic implications in the U.S. and elsewhere. However, there’s one area in which the coronavirus is having some unexpected effects: crime rates. Here are just a few of the ways in which the coronavirus has affected crime.
State of emergency declarations decrease crime rates across the United States
As you probably know by now, many states, cities, and municipalities have declared a widespread state of emergency orders. These orders are often put into effect to inform citizens of the dangers that come with the spread of the coronavirus in their community. Furthermore, such orders often include a stay at home or shelter at home order, which outlines that citizens should stay in their homes. The only exception to these orders is for those who work essential jobs, such as medical professionals, pharmacists, and emergency responders. Under stay at home orders, citizens are also able to leave the house for essential trips, such as grocery shopping.
In light of so many people staying at home, crime rates have dropped across the board. Everything from murder to robbery has seen a noticeable decrease since the global pandemic has spread in the United States. Major urban centers such as Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta all report lower crime than usual. Even though the coronavirus is scary and dangerous, the decrease in crime that’s resulted from it is certainly something we can all be grateful for.
The coronavirus outbreak is clearing prisons and placing prisoners outdoors
Many nations are releasing prisoners in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus among their populations. In quite a notable story, rapper Tekashi 6ix 9ine was recently released from prison due to pre-existing comorbidities. While the New York City rapper’s case certainly isn’t an anomaly throughout the global pandemic, it does mark the first instance of someone of such fame being released from prison due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to The Sentencing Project, there has been a 500% increase in the inmate population over the last 40 years. This fact stands true even though there has been an overall decrease in crime. Other prisons are taking precautions for older prisoners, giving them priority to be released outdoors and sometimes pardoned entirely in the face of the outbreak. Some nations have even taken to releasing their entire prison population to place them on quarantine or house arrest until more information is uncovered about the nature of the virus.
Some areas are seeing an increase in major crimes
While the coronavirus outbreak has positively affected crime rates in several different areas, there are other places that have not been so lucky. New York City, for example, is one such region. While New York City in some senses serves as the current epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, the city is still impervious to criminal activity. As a matter of fact, some people think that the number of illnesses serves as a motivating factor for some criminal acts. Car thefts and break-ins provide one relevant example, as these crimes have seen a sharp increase throughout New York City over the past few weeks. The city is also reporting an increase in robberies, assaults, and burglaries. With fewer people outdoors, New York City police are working to keep an eye on such criminal activity. The current problems of the pandemic that face the city are only intensified by an uptick in these crimes.
There are fewer drug law violations
In the year 2016, the FBI estimated that there were 1.5 million arrests for drug law violations in the United States. That’s quite an astonishing number. While some crimes in certain areas may have increased throughout the global pandemic, it appears that drug law violations are seeing a decrease. While there are likely many different factors at play when it comes to the discovery and reporting of drug law violations, the data suggests that fewer criminals are partaking in the actions necessary to involve themselves with drug activity.
Car accidents are becoming more rare
Annually, there are around 5.5 million car accidents in the United States. However, in light of the coronavirus, car accidents are taking a nosedive. While some areas report an increase in reckless driving (likely due to less traffic) the overall statistics on car accidents show a positive change. Again, much of this activity probably has to do with the fact that so many people have been told to stay home. Governments continue to enforce stay at home orders. Plus, many people are fearful for their health, so they avoid getting in their car to go somewhere unless it’s an absolutely essential trip. These factors combine to mark a decrease in both traffic violations and car accidents. As such a common source of injury and death in the United States and elsewhere, it’s certainly a positive thing that there are fewer accidents.
Domestic violence sees an increase
Unfortunately, there’s an even darker side to stay at home and shelter in place orders. Because so many couples are effectively stuck indoors with their significant others through the outbreak, domestic violence and spousal abuse are increasing at a steady rate. Thankfully, there has been a keen awareness of the issue from the start of the quarantine orders. With greater attention being placed on these problems, victims are encouraged to seek help before things get any worse. In fact, there are many local shelters and other organizations working to provide further provisions for anyone who may be a victim of domestic abuse throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
Even though certain crimes are increasing, many crimes are seeing a decrease. While the coronavirus outbreak has left the world in a state of perpetual uncertainty, it appears that crime is going down. Time will tell if this change remains. In the meantime, it’s important for everyone to remember to practice social distancing, proper hygiene, and health habits until the virus reaches its end.
As of Monday, April 6, Oregon has confirmed 1,132 cases of COVID-19. Additionally, according to the Oregon state health department, a total of 21,801 people have been tested. Currently, on the list of states with the most COVID-19 cases, Oregon’s confirmed numbers put them in the lower half of states impacted by the disease.