Gun violence is up in major cities across New York, according to testimony from the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Although total crime across the state did not increase in 2020, there was a 75 percent increase in shootings and an 82 percent increase in gun homicides.
“Although total crime did not increase during this period, our state's largest cities experienced a sharp rise in shooting and gun deaths in 2020,” said Michael Green, the executive deputy commissioner of the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, in testimony on Wednesday.
During a joint legislative budget hearing on public protection, lawmakers pointed out how this rise in shootings occurred during a global pandemic.
“We had months last year where people were largely in their homes because of the pandemic,” Assemblyman Edward Ra questioned during the hearing. “Yet we see these data points and they are very alarming.”
“I think we are going to come in somewhere between 800 and 840 homicides for the year when we collect the data,” Deputy Commissioner Green replied. “Which is a terrible increase from our historic low last year, but still substantially below what we were experiencing in the early 90s.”
Despite the rise in shootings, the number of incarcerated individuals across the state has decreased, marking the lowest total since 1984, according to Acting Commissioner of the Department of Corrections Anthony Annucci.
The department has received criticism, however, for its slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Well over 5,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic.
“I can’t give you a date when everybody will be vaccinated,” Acting Commissioner Annucci testified.
“I hope you will get to that because just like nursing homes there has been a huge spread to the whole system,” Assemblyman David Weprin said during the hearing.
New York state incarcerated individuals during the pandemic produced 11 million bottles of hand sanitizer, over 89,000 protective gowns, and almost two million face masks.