Sub-Chicago and America’s Real Crime Rate

Neighborhood, not citywide, crime data show how deadly some portions of American cities have become—especially Chicago’s West and South Sides.

The NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, in its annual report on crime, finds that the murder rate in America’s 30 largest cities rose 13.1 percent in 2016—an alarming figure, especially considering last year’s identical increase. Striking a calming note, the Brennan Center’s press release accompanying the report begins by reminding us that “Americans are safer today than they have been at almost any time in the past 25 years.” But downplaying the recent uptick in the homicide rate distracts from the fact that there is more than one America when it comes to violent crime: indeed, 51 percent of all U.S. murders are committed in just 2 percent of the nation’s counties, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

No city more starkly illustrates this disparity than Chicago.

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