Analysis: Jackson’s rate of killings per capita ranks highest in the U.S.

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 10:33 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - People are being killed at a higher rate per capita in the Capital City than any other major city in the U.S., according to a 3 On Your Side analysis of more than fifty municipalities across the country.

With 153 killings thus far in 2021, the homicide rate for Jackson is 99.5 per 100,000 residents, a rate that blazes past Memphis, St. Louis, and Baltimore.

For this analysis, 3 On Your Side calculated per capita rates of killings for cities with a population of at least 130,000, including major ones like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, and cities that had previously been ranked for high homicide rates, such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The number of homicides calculated for each city came from the latest available data from news media sources in that respective market or crime statistics from that city’s police department.

Author’s note: Though ABC News previously reported 137 homicides for Baton Rouge last month, the Daily Advertiser reported a lower final number at year’s end -- which is more in line with other Louisiana news outlets and is posted below. WLBT has also updated new numbers for several cities on the list below based on year-end stories published from other news organizations after this story originally aired and appeared online.

RankingCityHomicides for YearRate Per Capita
2LOUISVILLE, KY188 (updated 1/1)76.4
3BIRMINGHAM132 (updated 1/1)65.8
4ST. LOUIS194 (updated 1/1)64.3
6NEW ORLEANS218 (updated 1/1)56.8
7MEMPHIS342 (updated 1/1)54
8BATON ROUGE121 (updated 1/1)53.2
10CLEVELAND, OH170 (updated 1/1)45.6

Calculating the per capita rate of killings means that a city with more homicides than Jackson could still have a lower rate, depending on the population.

For example, 797 people have been killed in Chicago, according to the city’s ABC affiliate; because nearly 2.8 million people live in the Windy City, the rate per capita for that major city is 29 per 100,000 residents.

In other words, the rate of killings in Jackson is three times greater than Chicago, meaning statistically, one is more likely to get killed in the Capital City than in these other municipalities.

Though that surge in Jackson homicides resulted in a 17 percent jump in violent crime, according to the city, property crimes dropped by double digits.

Overall, total crime this year has actually fallen 8 percent, though that has been overshadowed from the year’s record number of killings.

2021 will end as the deadliest in Jackson history, eclipsing 2020′s record of 128 homicides based on individual reports supplied to WLBT from JPD.

“It ain’t good at all. I hope, hopefully, next year, it’ll be getting a lot better,” said Timothy Harris, a longtime Jackson resident.

Harris remembers the violence that plagued the Capital City throughout the 1990s because he lived through it.

Now he thinks other factors are making it even worse.

“[We’re] 40% below poverty; that’s got a lot to do with it. And, you know, it’s the pandemic, and people could not work and just not a lot of jobs right now,” Harris said.

Harris’ statements echo Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, whose office said Friday that “the pandemic has increased the level of desperation that leads to violent crime across the nation, and Jackson has not been immune to that.”

“Every homicide that occurs in Jackson is heart-breaking, and I mourn for those affected by these tragedies. We continue to work behind the scenes to tackle violent crime in Jackson,” the statement said. “We also understand the holiday seasons can be particularly stressful for some individuals and families. Unfortunately, there’s often little police can do to prevent domestic and interpersonal violence, which is the majority of violent crime cases we see. It is my prayer for 2022 that we learn to resolve our issues without violence and that we strengthen our love and bonds as families and communities to continue to build a stronger, safer and more prosperous Jackson for all.”

The mayor’s office also said in the statement that while they’re working to increase police officer numbers, it will take everyone working together.

Rosie Bingham, who recently moved to Jackson, agrees with that.

“I think the police here in Jackson do a good job,” Bingham said. “The people in Jackson are going to have to help them to accomplish what they need to accomplish.”

Bingham believes taking responsibility for one’s street and block will go a long way toward making the city safer in the new year because criminals are watching what residents do.

“If they think people are afraid of them, then they going to be way more eager to just to commit a crime,” Bingham said. “But if they know people are watching one wants to go to jail.”

Author’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Los Angeles instead of Chicago when discussing homicide rates for the Windy City. It has since been corrected.

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