WSJ Headline: Rural America Reels From Violent Crime. ‘People Lost Their Ever-Lovin’ Minds.’
Subheadline: Murder rates didn’t soar only in cities during the pandemic; small-town sheriffs and prosecutors are overwhelmed with homicide cases
By Dan Frosch , Kris Maher and Zusha Elinson | Photographs by Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal
June 10, 2022 8:34 am ET
Homicide rates in rural America rose 25% in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the largest rural increase since the agency began tracking such data in 1999. The CDC considers counties rural if they are located outside metropolitan areas defined by the federal government.
The rise came close to the 30% spike in homicide rates in metropolitan areas in 2020. The CDC hasn’t analyzed 2021 homicide data yet. In some rural counties, murder rates remained high last year, while in others they have begun to recede along with Covid, data from local law-enforcement agencies shows.
County sheriffs are trying to hire more deputies. Small-town prosecutors, unaccustomed to handling numerous homicides cases, find themselves overwhelmed with them.