Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murder Rate Rises in Cities Figures Shatter Declines of '90S

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murder Rate Rises in Cities Figures Shatter Declines of '90S

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS -- A week after Mayor Marc Morial received a national award for overhauling the city police department and a coinciding drop in crime, two teenagers were slain after leaving a weekend party in an upscale neighborhood.

Four more people have been killed since then, the latest victims in a disturbing trend: There have been 110 murders in New Orleans this year, compared with 80 at the same time a year ago.

The bad news isn't limited to New Orleans. Selected checks of major cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, found that murders are up over last year.

The increases follow a substantial drop in murder rates across the country during most of the last decade.

In May, the FBI said murder and other serious crimes reported to the police dropped for an eighth consecutive year in 1999, by far the longest-running crime decline on record. Murder was down 2 percent in cities over 500,000 and 8 percent overall.

Several leading criminal justice experts agreed that the public should no longer expect to see the same significant drops in the rate of violent crimes that occurred in the 1990s. But they were unsure whether this year's murder upswing is temporary or whether America's violent crime rate has reached its low point and will now increase.

"I call it the criminal justice limbo stick; at some point you can't go any lower," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston. "Certain types of murder are way down . . . but the issue of thrill and revenge motivation is still here and remains as American as apple pie, and we have not seen an abatement of this type of violence."

Steve Levitt, a University of Chicago economics professor who specializes in criminal justice issues, actually expects a long-term drop in violent crime. …

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