Monday, April 9, 2012

Stand Your Ground Law and Justifiable Homicides

Shall Not Be Questioned points to an April 7, 2012 Washington Post article about Stand Your Ground laws that points out that justifiable homicides by civilians have tripled since passage of the law.  This may not mean as much as they want to believe.  Justifiable homicide numbers in this case are coming from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement--who also supply these numbers to the FBI for the Uniform Crime Reports program.  As I pointed out in my book Firing Back, the UCR justifiable homicide numbers are based on initial police reports, and are not corrected as subsequent police investigation, district attorney investigation, grand jury deliberations, or trial cause revision of criminal charges to justifiable or excusable homicide.  What we may be seeing here is not that justifiable homicides are actually increasing (although they may be), but that many killings that were initially considered crimes, but were later corrected to justifiable or excusable homicide, are now being declared justifiable much earlier in the process.

Another problem with the Washington Post article is that they also acknowledge:
Most justifiable killings are committed by police officers; those cases, which have also tripled, are not included in these statistics.
It is hard to see how Stand Your Ground is making much of a difference on police officer justifiable homicides. If both civilian and police justifiable homicides have tripled, maybe the real issue isn't the Stand Your Ground law at all.

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