Delaware’s violent crime rates fell to their lowest point since the state began tracking the stat The 40% drop came despite a sharp decline in the state’s prison population and a surge during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’ve never seen another jurisdiction accomplish the things that Delaware is doing simultaneously,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Violent crime, shootings, prison populations, and recidivism have all plummeted in our state, and the latest data tells us that the decline is not a fluke. None of us is declaring mission accomplished — but Delaware is setting itself apart as a national leader in violence reduction. We should all be proud of that progress.
Jennings continued, I am grateful to our prosecutors, our support staff, and all of our partners — Wilmington PD, Dover PD, New Castle County PD, the Delaware State Police, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Office of the Governor, the Department of Correction, the Delaware Association of Police, Probation & Parole, the Criminal Justice Council, legislators, nonprofits, community leaders, and so many others — who have made this work possible. Success has many parents, and it has been a group effort to keep our neighborhoods safe and to make real, lasting reform.”
The overall violent crime stats did not include the year of 2023. However, figures for Wilmington and Dover suggest that the tend is continuing.
One factor may be an older populaiton in Delaware, a state with one of the nation’s higher average ages. The state has seen an influx of older residents to Sussex County and a declining percentage of young people in New Castle County.
The findings run counter to the usual election year claims of crime being out of control in the nation and state, coupled with video of violent crime online and on TV.
Jennings noted the following:
- Delaware’s violent crime rates have reached their lowest recorded level, according to the most recently available statistics from Delaware’s Criminal Justice Council. Even as gun violence spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, violent crime as a whole continued to decline.
- Gun violence rates have declined by 20% since spiking during the pandemic, including a 40% decline in shootings during the summer months, according to law enforcement data running through 2023. As a result, there has been a net decrease of roughly 300 shootings since 2020. AG Jennings credited Senate Bill 7, a bail law passed in 2021, with a decisive role in the decline.
- Violence reductions have been especially pronounced in Delaware’s urban centers: homicides in Wilmington have declined by more than 50% since the pandemic, and finished 2023 at a five-year low.
- Shootings in Dover have declined by 23% in the same period. Jennings credited those declines to law enforcement initiatives including the intelligence-sharing program GunStat, gang prosecutions, and community policing efforts.
- Delaware’s prison population fell by roughly 25% since 2019, while our recidivism rate has declined by 60%,according to data gathered from the Delaware Department of Correction and the Criminal Justice Council.
- The DOJ continues to maintain a conviction rate of 80% or more against gun offenders. As a result, violent offenders comprise 57% of Delaware’s sentenced inmate population, with 18% serving time for a gun offense. The least common lead charge for a sentenced inmate is simple drug possession.
A copy of the data shared in this morning’s briefing is available here.