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(The Center Square) – Minneapolis ranked 11th overall in the nation for combined increased homicides and highest homicide rates during the pandemic, according to a WalletHub study released Wednesday.

Rankings are based on highest homicide rates and highest increase in homicides. During the second quarter of 2021, Milwaukee reported 6.19 homicides per capita, an increase of 1.67 over the same period in 2020 – and 4.04 more homicides recorded during the second quarter of 2019.

All told, the most populated cities in the U.S. reported a 33% average rise in homicides between Q2 2019 and Q2 2021. Topping the rankings ahead of Detroit are New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

WalletHub noted states classified as “Blue” – voting majority Democrat in the 2020 election – averaged a 21.29 ranking, compared to “Red” states – voting majority Republican in the 2020 election – averaged at 39.78.

“There are a few explanations as to why we have seen crime increases,” Christopher Salvatore, associate professor of Justice Studies, coordinator Justice and Families Minor and chairperson Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University, said in a WalletHub statement.

Salvatore noted U.S. crime rates are far lower than the national peak during the 1990s.

“The last year has been a period of instability/challenge with covid, social unrest, and political change,” he said. “During these periods faith in social institutions waivers (like the criminal justice system) and overall social control may weaken. In addition, we had people forced to stay home, a large portion of crimes are committed by those we know – so crimes that recently increased such as domestic violence, assaults, and homicide may be due to interpersonal conflicts, increased use of drugs and alcohol, as well as increased social and economic pressures due to the pandemic.”

Diane Birnholz, a law lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and former federal prosecutor, noted many states adopted early release policies for prisoners during the pandemic.

“California, for example, granted early release to thousands of prisoners in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the prison system,” Birnholz said in a statement. “Another approach undertaken by states was to reduce the number of incoming prisoners by granting diversion for lower-level crimes. Criminal trials were postponed for a time, resulting in the release of defendants due to statutory speedy trial requirements.” 

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.