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Empower releases report on violent crime in Mississippi

Mississippi’s homicide rate is significantly higher than the national average, according to a new analysis of FBI crime data by Empower Mississippi. The overall violent crime rate, however, is lower than the national average and lower than all nearby states.

The homicide rate, which is one component of the violent crime rate, jumped 66 percent from 2017 to 2020, the latest year for which data is comparable to previous years and to other states.

That spike was largely driven by the doubling of Jackson’s homicide rate over those three years. In 2020, Jackson accounted for 6 percent of the state’s population, but 52 percent of homicides in the state.

Mississippi’s broader violent crime rate, which includes rape, aggravated assault, and robbery, in addition to homicide, was 27 percent lower than the national rate in 2020. It was also significantly lower than all eight other states in the region. In 2019, the year before the pandemic began, the violent crime rate in Mississippi was slightly lower than it was at the beginning of the decade in 2010. A sharp increase in 2020 resulted in an eight percent increase for the decade.

The report, titled “Violent Crime in Mississippi: A Data-Supported Analysis and Evidence-Based Solutions,” also discusses the possible causes behind recent crime spikes and policy solutions that can reduce violent crime in the state. It also makes clear that recent criminal justice reforms are not a cause of those spikes.

 “Crime affects everyone, directly or indirectly, and everyone should be concerned about it. Families, churches, communities, and of course government all have roles in addressing it. To do that, we need to start with the facts, and that’s what this report is intended to do,” said Empower Mississippi Senior Advisor Forest Thigpen.

 “We also need public policy solutions that are based in evidence, not just ones that sound right on the surface. Otherwise, we spend a lot of taxpayers’ money and don’t actually reduce violent crime,” Thigpen continued.

Thigpen said he was involved in the 1990s push for “tough on crime” laws.

“The ‘tough on crime’ approach was based on the

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