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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 17 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

But now, more than ever, we need your help to put data & compassion into the conversation. Any gift you can make today will be matched by other donors and go twice as far.

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—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate
Graph showing the number of murders per year from 1985 to 2015 for the largest cities in the United States. The number of murders is much lower now -- and relatively constant -- compared to during the early 1990s when murder was much higher.

Data Source: Compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative from FBI UCR reports for 1985-2014 and Major Cities Association Violent Crime Statistics for 2015. (Graph: Wendy Sawyer, 2016)

This graph originally appeared in Making a mountain out of a molehill: murder rate analysis.

For most cities, murder is much lower now than during the 1980s or 1990s. The data for 1985-2014 comes from the FBI. The FBI has not published the 2015 full year data yet, so I relied on data from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which historically is very similar if slightly higher than the FBI’s figures. For that reason, this graph may overstate the increase in murder in 2015 in these cities.

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