Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016 (2)

2017-03-09 14:54Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping ECNS App Download

I. Serious Infringement on Right to Life, Personal Security

In 2016, the U.S. government exercised no effective control over guns, law enforcement departments abused their power, and crimes were not effectively contained. As a result, civil rights, especially the right to life, were seriously threatened and people's personal rights were continuously infringed upon.

Occurrence of gun-related crimes sustained a high level. According to data released by the FBI on September 26, 2016, firearms were used in 71.5 percent of the nation's murders, 40.8 percent of robberies, and 24.2 percent of aggravated assaults in 2015 (, September 26, 2016). According to a toll report by the Gun Violence Archive, there were a total of 58,125 gun violence incidents, including 385 mass shootings, in the United States in 2016, leaving 15,039 killed and 30,589 injured (, December 31, 2016). On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring 53 others in a rampage that was the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history (, June 12, 2016).

The crime rate shot up. According to the report "Crime in the United States" released by the FBI in 2016, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes committed around the nation in 2015, up 3.9 percent from the previous year. The estimated rate of violent crime was 372.6 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 3.1 percent compared with the 2014 rate. Among the 2015 violent crime total, 63.8 percent were aggravated assaults, 27.3 percent were robberies, 7.5 percent rapes and 1.3 percent murders. Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,993,631 property crimes, with the victims of such crimes suffering losses calculated at an estimated 14.3 billion U.S. dollars ( In 2015, an estimated 15,696 cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter occurred nationwide, according to data released by Statista ( The United Kingdom's Daily Mail website reported on July 26, 2016 that homicides in 51 major U.S. cities in the first half of last year were up a startling 15 percent, and the homicide rate in Chicago was up 48 percent year on year (, July 26, 2016). Josh Earnest, then the White House press secretary, pointed out that it was a problem that some cities "are experiencing a troubling surge in violent crime" (, May 14, 2016). The U.S. president also admitted that "crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse" (, July 26, 2016). Hate crime cases also surged. According to Hate Crime Statistics, 2015 released by the FBI, law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 5,850 criminal incidents and 6,885 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity in 2015 (, November 14, 2016).

Police abused their law enforcement power. According to the crime data released by the FBI, law enforcement made an estimated 10,797,088 arrests in 2015 nationwide. The estimated arrest rate for the United States in 2015 was 3,363 arrests per 100,000 inhabitants ( Gun abuse was serious among the U.S. police during law enforcement. Media reviews identified 1,348 potential arrest-related deaths in the United States from June 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016, an average of 135 deaths per month (, December 22, 2016). A total of 963 people were shot and killed by police in 2016 ( According to a report by the Washington Post, as of July 8, 2016, of the 509 killed by U.S. police in that year at least 124 were thought to be suffering from mental illness (, July 8, 2016). Police officers who kill civilians rarely face criminal charges. About 1,000 civilians are killed by police each year, but only 77 officers have been charged with manslaughter or murder in connection with those deaths between 2005 and 2016 (, October 19, 2016).

The incarceration rate remained high. According to data released by a U.S. market research firm in April 2016, the United States had the second highest prisoner rate, with 693 prisoners per 100,000 of the national population. Roughly 2.2 million people were incarcerated in the United States in 2014. (, April 2016) There had been 70 million Americans incarcerated -- that's almost one in three adults -- with some form of criminal record (, January 5, 2017). Only designed to hold about 13,000 people in total, the U.S. Alabama's prisons now housed 28,000 prisoners, more than doubling the designed capacity. The health of inmates cannot be safeguarded and infectious diseases including tuberculosis and dermatosis were easily transmitted from one to another. (, December 16, 2016) The website of Washington Post reported on November 28, 2016 that two policemen were imprisoned for beating a mentally-ill inmate and forging records to cover up their prisoner abuse (, November 28, 2016). According to a report of the Washington Post website on December 19, 2016, guards at the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department had beaten and abused in mates. Its former head thwarted a federal investigation into the beatings and other abuses at the Los Angeles County jail system he ran. The probe led to convictions of 20 members of the Sheriff's department (, December 19, 2016). The Washington Post reported on its website on December 2, 2016 that a guard at New York City's jail complex Rikers Island "savagely" kicked an ailing inmate to death (, December 2, 2016). In-prison deaths continued to increase. According to data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in December 2016, between 2001 and 2014, there were 50,785 inmate deaths in the United States. In 2014, there were 3,927 inmate deaths in state and federal prisons. This is the largest number of inmate deaths reported since the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) began collecting data in 2001. Suicide was the leading cause of death in local jails. There were 372 suicides in 2014, up 13 percent from 2013. The number of suicides in state prisons increased by 30 percent from 2013 to 2014 (, December 2016).


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