Pennsylvania Leads Nation in Per Capita Rate of Black Homicide Victimization

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Wimmer, Communications Associate, 202-822-8200 x110, mwimmer@vpc.org

Pennsylvania Leads Nation in Per Capita Rate of Black Homicide Victimization

State's Black Homicide Victimization Rate of 36.36 Per 100,000 is Nearly Seven Times National Overall Homicide Rate of 5.30 per 100,000

WASHINGTON - Pennsylvania
leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization according
to a new analysis of unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence
Policy Center (VPC). The annual study, "Black Homicide Victimization in
the United States: An Analysis of 2007 Homicide Data," (http://www.vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide10.pdf)
uses 2007 data--the most recent data available from the FBI--and ranks
the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates. The
study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon
of choice in the homicides. This is the fourth year that the VPC has issued
the report and the third time in four years that Pennsylvania has topped
the ranking.

The top five states
with each state's corresponding black homicide victimization rate are:
1) Pennsylvania, 36.36 per 100,000; 2) Missouri, 34.82 per 100,000; 3)
Indiana, 30.89 per 100,000; 4 (tie) Nevada, 29.83 per 100,000; and, 4
(tie) Wisconsin, 29.83 per 100,000.

Josh Sugarmann, VPC
executive director and study co-author states, "While Pennsylvania has
the highest rate of black homicide victimization, this is a long-ignored
crisis that is devastating black teens and adults across our nation."

For PENNSYLVANIA,
the study found that in 2007:

  • There were 485
    black homicide victims, resulting in a homicide rate of 36.36 per 100,000.
    Of these, 440 were male and 45 were female.
  • For homicides in
    which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of black victims
    (402 out of 467) were killed with guns. Of these, 87 percent (349 victims)
    were known to be killed with handguns. There were 39 victims killed
    with firearms where the type of gun was not stated. There were 38 victims
    killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 12 victims killed by
    bodily force, and 7 victims killed by a blunt object.
  • For homicides involving
    black victims for which the victim to offender relationship could be
    identified, 79 percent of black victims (166 out of 210) were murdered
    by someone they knew. Forty-four victims were killed by strangers.
  • For homicides involving
    black victims for which the circumstances could be identified, 51 percent
    (171 out of 333) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
    Of these, 85 percent (145 homicides) involved arguments between the
    victim and the offender.

For the entire UNITED
STATES, the study found that in 2007:

  • There were 7,387
    black homicide victims in the United States. Of these, 6,345 (86 percent)
    were male, and 1,042 (14 percent) were female.
  • The homicide rate
    for black victims in the United States was 20.86 per 100,000. In comparison,
    the overall national homicide rate was 5.30 per 100,000 and the national
    homicide rate for whites was 3.11 per 100,000.
  • For homicides in
    which the weapon used could be identified, 82 percent of black victims
    (5,743 out of 7,011) were killed with guns. Of these, 73 percent (4,204
    victims) were killed with handguns. There were 701 victims killed with
    knives or other cutting instruments, 247 victims killed by bodily force,
    and 200 victims killed by a blunt object.
  • For homicides in
    which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 72 percent
    of black victims (2,474 out of 3,431) were murdered by someone they
    knew. Nine hundred fifty-seven victims were killed by strangers.
  • For homicides involving
    black victims for which the circumstances could be identified, 69 percent
    (3,023 out of 4,362) were not related to the commission of any other
    felony. Of these, 55 percent (1,669 homicides) involved arguments between
    the victim and the offender. Ten percent (294 homicides) were reported
    to be gang-related. Forty-four percent of gang-related homicides (128
    homicides) were in California, which may be in part due to more comprehensive
    reporting. In California, 44 percent of non-felony related homicides
    were reported to be gang-related.
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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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