Presentation on theme: "Homicides and Assaults in the U.S. Patterns and Trends Explanations"— Presentation transcript:
1 Criminal Violence: Patterns, Causes, and Prevention Riedel and Welsh, Ch. 4 “Homicides and Assaults”
2 Homicides and Assaults in the U.S. Patterns and Trends Explanations OUTLINEHomicides and Assaults in the U.S.Patterns and TrendsExplanationsInterventions
3 DefinitionsMurder and Non-negligent Manslaughter (UCR): the “willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.”Aggravated Assault (NCVS): "attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether an injury occurred or not, as well as an attack without a weapon when serious injury resulted."Simple Assault: does not involve a weapon; does not result in serious injury to the victim
4 Homicide Patterns (UCR): 2008 VICTIMSGender: 78.0% of victims were maleRace: % of victims were black, 48.2% white, 2.3% “other”Victim/offender relationship:9.4% of victims were killed by intimate partners8.1% of victims were killed by other family members12.3% were murdered by strangers26.0% were slain by acquaintances (neighbor, friend, employee, etc.)OFFENDERSGender: 64.9% of offenders were males. Race: 36.5% of offenders were black, 32.8% were white, and 1.7% were “other”INCIDENTSFirearms: 66.8% of the offenses involved firearmsSetting:28.9% of victims were murdered during arguments20.6% were killed in conjunction with a felony (rape, robbery, etc.)Circumstances unknown for 35.3% of reported homicides
5 Homicide Rates in the United States, 1960-2008 YearHomicide Rate per 100,000Figure 4.1Homicide Rates in the United States,196019651970197519801985199019952000200520104.555.566.577.588.599.51010.5Source:Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics.
6 Table 1. Rates of violent crime, by gender, race, Hispanic origin, and age of victim, 2008 Violent victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or olderDemographiccharacteristic of victimPopulationAllRape/sexual assaultRobberyAll assaultAggravatedassault Simple assaultGenderMale123,071,02021.30.3^2.718.33.914.5Female129,171,51017.31.31.714.32.811.5Race White204,683,50018.10.61.615.93.012.8Black30,709,86025.91.9^5.5184.108.40.206Other race*13,952,24015.20.9^3.0^11.38.5Two or more races2,896,93051.66.842.936.1Hispanic originHispanic34,506,68016.40.6^3.4220.127.116.11Non-Hispanic217,351,75019.70.82.016.93.313.6Age12-1516,414,55042.21.6^35.26.129.016-1917,280,27037.02.24.830.05.624.520-2420,547,62037.82.15.430.38.721.525-3440,649,50023.40.72.320.54.016.535-4965,123,03016.71.914.111.450-6455,116,32010.70.2^9.77.765 or older37,111,2403.10.4^Note: Violent crimes measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey include rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault. Because the NCVS interviews persons about their victimizations, murder and manslaughter cannot be included.^Based upon 10 or fewer sample cases. N*Includes American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.
7 Table 2 Property crime rates, by household income and household size, 2008 (Burglary, Motor Vehicle Theft, and Theft).Characteristics of householdNumber of householdsTotal VictimsHousehold incomeLess than $7,5004,115,470204.2$7,500-$14,9996,361,960175.0$15,000-$24,9999,412,930161.7$25,000-$34,9999,901,970150.5$35,000-$49,99913,497,280142.7$50,000-$74,99914,601,440125.8$75,000 or more24,115,150133.4Number of persons in household134,561,280100.32 or 360,022,010122.24 or 522,868,210197.06 or more3,689,560273.9
8 Explanations Symbolic interaction theory Both homicides & aggravated assaults tend to result from an escalation of interpersonal conflict [see Luckenbill].Both tend to have similar situational dynamics:Both tend to occur between people who know one another, especially during an argument or fight.Violence is often goal-oriented behavior: "to compel or deter others, to achieve a favorable social identity, and to obtain justice, as defined by the actor."
9 Explanations (cont.)Subcultural theories: values and beliefs that sanction violence as problem-solving behavior within certain groups (e.g., gangs)The subculture of violence suggests that lower- or working-class youths more frequently see violence as a way to solve personal problems.
10 InterventionsQ: What explanations have been offered for declines in homicide and aggravated assaults since 1993?Decline in high-risk age group (15-24)Decline in handgun homicideDrug markets stabilizedIncrease in legitimate and decrease in illegitimate opportunitiesIncreased use of incarcerationDecline in partner homicidesViolence prevention programs (e.g., mediation)
11 Arrest ClearancesDefinition: An act is considered cleared when “at least one person is arrested, charged with the commission of an offense, and turned over to the court for prosecution…” (FBI)Arrest clearances for homicides have declined linearly from 92.3% in 1960 to 63.6% in 2008.Why Are Arrest Clearances Important?Without arrest, no further processing of offendersWithout arrest, offenders are free to offend againNo arrest further traumatizes victim and familyLow clearance rates undermine morale of law enforcementLow clearance rates mean less information on offenders for research
12 Arrest Clearances (cont.) Type of homicides clearedHomicides with female victims more likely to be clearedWhite victim homicides are more likely to be cleared, although the research results are mixedYoung homicide victims are more easily clearedNon-gun homicides are cleared more quicklyHomicides involving domestic and intimate partner relationships are cleared more readily
13 Explanations and Interventions Do police investigate all homicides equally diligently or do they exercise discretion by race, gender, age, etc. of victim?Drawing from Donald Black’s theory, Litwin and associates found mixed resultsInterventionsCold case squads continue the investigation of homicides after the usual amount of time devoted to clearing has passedVicodq Society provides support to cold case investigations
14 Serial Homicides and Mass Murders Serial homicides: multiple killings by the same person over a period of time, usually months or yearsMass murder: single event or several killings in a very brief period -- “spree killing.”Prior to 1980s, inflated estimates resulted from invalid practice of attributing all homicides with “unknown” circumstances to serial killings.FBI Estimates: about 127 serial homicide victims/year, about 10 offenders operating at any one time.Psychological appearance: “extraordinarily ordinary”Fox & Levin: serial killers kill for thrills, sexual satisfaction, or feelings of dominance and control-- more “cruel” than “crazy.” Some are sociopaths, but show affection toward family members & friends.
15 Serial HomicidesVictims: often vulnerable (e.g., elderly, transients, prostitutes, runaways, hospital patients) people who may not be quickly missedOffenders: Hickey identified 337 male (83%) and 67 female (17%) serial killers responsible for 2,526 homicides between 1800 and 1995.Whites: 80% of all serial killers. Majority tend to operate in one city or even one neighborhood.Trends: Serial homicides may have increased over time.35% of the killers in sample were identified between 1950 and 197445% of the killers were identified between 1975 and 1995
16 Explanations Interventions Little research supports any one cause consistently.Biological: XYY, neurotransmitters, hormonal imbalancesPsychological: psychosis, dissociative disorders, personality disorders, psychopathySociological: anonymity and normlessness (anomie), child abuse, labeling, lack of social bondsBut: huge number of “false positives” (i.e., many normal people have one or more of these characteristics and are not serial killers, or even violent, or even criminals)InterventionsLaw enforcement approaches include interagency communication, geographic analysis, and profiling (look for patterns in incidents, victims, places).Example: DC snipers