Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Murder Victims In The U.S.

It has long been known that many murder victims are not exactly upstanding citizens.  This August 31, 2007 USA Today article points out something that is one of the reasons while the high murder rates in the U.S. are distressing, not every murder victim is an equal loss to society:
Police increasingly explore criminal pasts of homicide victims as well as suspects as they search for sources of the violence, which has risen the past two years after a decade of decline, according to the FBI's annual measures of U.S. crime. 

Understanding victims' pasts is critical to driving crime back down, police and crime analysts say. "If you are trying to look at prevention, you need to look at the lives of the people involved," says Mallory O'Brien, director of the Homicide Review Commission in Milwaukee.

In Baltimore, about 91% of murder victims this year had criminal records, up from 74% a decade ago, police reported. 

In many cases, says Frederick Bealefeld III, Baltimore's interim police commissioner, victims' rap sheets provide critical links to potential suspects in botched drug deals or violent territorial disputes.
The article points to an increasing percentage of murder victims with criminal histories -- but I wonder how much of this might be that dropping murder rates the last decade or two means that violence is increasing criminal-on-criminal, as opposed to criminal-on-decent person.


  1. I work in an urban system. Overwhelmingly the victims of homicide are criminals engaged in disputes with other criminals.

    The cycle is self perpetuating as a member of Gang A gets shot or stabbed by a member of Gang B. Gang A then goes looking for Gang B to retaliate for the original shooting.

    The cops in my city have a pretty good intelligence unit. When a particular person gets shot, the police can look at his gang affiliation, who that gang is currently engaged in a dispute with, and have a good idea of when (but not where) the next shooting will occur.

    I'm sure the police intelligence units in other cities do the same.

    None of which is to say that the rest of us are safe enough that we can turn in our guns.

  2. I think this is one reason for the discrepancy between our murder rate (high) and our other violent crime rate (low) compared to the United Kingdom.

    Over there, thugs are free to terrorize the people for years, and never face any consequences beyond ASBOs, suspended sentences, and early release.

    Here, in some neighborhoods it's safe to say 80 or 90% of those killed had it coming and are no net loss to society. Those people are NOT going to continue committing other violent crimes any longer.