Rob said: focus on patterns, trends and themes.
100 questions total, 50 Multiple Choice, 50 T/F
Davies, Chapter. 4: Patterns and Trends—1 question
How Common is Homicide?: The FBI reported that in 2004, 16,137 individuals in the
United States were murdered.
• However, it is important to look at the homicide rate as well.
• The U.S. murder rate decreased from a rate of 5.7 homicide victims per 100,000
in 2004 to 5.5 per 100,000 in 2004.
Determining the Homicide Rate:
• How many people were killed out of every 100,000 individuals in the population.
The homicide rate is determined following this formula:
Homicide rate= H/(P/100,000)).
H=the number of homicides in a particular area
P=the population in the particular area
• The number of homicides in the United States has decreased 65.5% between 1991
and 2004, whereas the homicide victimization rate decreased 55% during the
same time period.
Circumstance Type: (pp. 45)
• Homicides involving arguments were most common, making up 43.9% of the
homicides in which the circumstances were known. Nearly a quarter or 22.8% of the
known circumstance occurred along with another felony such as robbery or burglary.
• More than half of the victim/offender relationships (55.9%), were known to the
police, and when they were known were the most common.
• The percentage of homicides committed by family members has declined steeply
since 1966. In addition, the percentage of all homicide that are acquaintance killings
has also decreased since the 1960’s.
• Homicide is predominately a male activity. More than three out of four victims or
78% of U.S. homicide offenders in 2004 were male. Similarly, when sex of the
offender was known, 90% of homicide offenders were male.
• Male offenders predominate as killers of both males and females.
• Homicide offending tends to be an activity that is committed often by the
• The peak age for homicide offending in 2004 was 20 to 24 years. Moreover, those
aged 17-29 accounted for the majority (57.6%) of homicide offending in which
the age of the offender was known.
• Female victims and offenders tend to be adults between the ages of 20 and 54,
there is no age spike for females as there is for males.
Race: • The 2004 homicide data show that among known offenders and victims, whites
out number African Americans, but only by a small margin. In 2004, 48.6% of
homicide offenders were white, 47.5% wereAfricanAmerican.
• Whites predominate as victims (52.9%).AfricanAmericans are close with
• Although the data shows that whites outnumberAfricanAmericans, the rate of
homicide is much higher forAfricanAmericans.
o In 2004, the rate of homicide victimization was six times higher for
AfricanAmericans compared to whites. Similarly, the rates of homicide
offending forAfricanAmericans were seven times higher than the rates of
offending in 2004 for whites.
• Alook at who kills in terms of race shows that white offenders tend to kill white
victims, andAfricanAmerican offenders tends to killAfricanAmerican victims.
• Guns predominate as murder weapons in the United States. Firearms were used as
the murder weapon of choice in 66% of all homicides in 2004, with handguns the
most popular gun choice for homicide offenders.
• Most homicides and the highest rate of homicide occurred in the most densely
• Homicide is more common cities as well as in the South.
• The northeast is the least populous region of the United States, and it contributes
least to the murder rate, and likewise the south is the most populous and contributes
the most to the homicide total. However, the rates indicate that the South has more
than its fair share of homicide.
• The murder rate for the North and Midwest were both 5 per 100,000 and the rate
in the West was 5.7 per 100,000 persons in 2004. However, the south had a rare 6.6
per 100,000 in 2004.
• The three cities with the highest homicide rates are New Orleans, Baltimore and
• The homicide rate in the United States remains consistently higher than the
homicide rate in many other countries.
• The United States has a rate of 5.56 per 100,000.
Social and Cultural Explanations for Homicide: Davies Chapter 6: 20 Questions
• Sociologists begin with the premise that our environment or social milieu
influences our actions. Societies are structured differently and cultures vary.As a
result, crime rates vary by place and over time.
• There are also different patterns:
1. Men are more likely than women to be both offenders and victims of homicide
throughout the world.
2. Within the United States, southern have higher rates of homicide than northeasterners. 3. African Americans and poor people are overrepresented as both homicide offenders
and homicide victims.
Classical School Perspective:
• Cesare Beccaria: argued that people are rational and hedonistic and that they
possess free will. Individuals make decisions about how they act weighting the costs
and benefits of potential actions, including criminal actions.
• According to Beccaria you are hedonistic. You are motivated by your desire for
pleasure and your attempt to avoid pain.
• Finally, you have free will—you can determine your own actions.
• Criminologists today still find the premise of Beccari’s explanation for hum
behaviour attractive, as seen in rational choice theory.
Rational choice Theory: Assumes that people are rational and they consider the risks
involved in their actions before acting.
• RTC is strongly associated with deterrence theory, which posits that laws may
have a deterrent effect on human behaviour.
• In other words, if the criminal justice system is setup in such a way that a person
who violates a law is likely to be caught and punished, people will be less likely to
• After all, in their rational calculations they will decide that the punishment for
certain behaviour is not worth doing the behaviour.
• Look to the structural causes for explaining crime.
• Studying the inner-city of Chicago Shaw and McKay (1942) found that regardless
of who lived in what they called the “transitional zone” of the city; this zone had
higher delinquency and crime rates.
o They concluded that it was not the people so much as the structural
conditions of the area in which they lived that led to criminal behaviour.
o The transitional zone with the highest crime rates had worse housing
conditions; higher rates of poverty; fewer intact families and less of a
sense of community.
o They theorized that the zone was disorganized, leading to unclear norms
and a lack of structure that helped keep individuals in line.
o Findings of recent homicide studies support the basic ideas of social
• Krivo and Peterson (2000) find that greater economic disadvantage and low home
ownership rates are correlated with higher homicide rates in 124 U.S. cities. Thus
structural factors are linked to the homicide rates.
• Edwin Sutherland set out to explain why crime is more common is poor areas.
• He argued: crime is like everything else that humans do, we learn to do it. • Basically, we learn how to commit crime and why we would want to commit
crime from intimate others. Through family and peers we are exposed to ideas about
laws. We learn that laws, or certain laws, should be followed and other laws are
• Differential association explains some homicide better than other types. Gang
killings, for example, are likely learned.
• Within the context of a gang, one learns the value of violence and homicide for
protecting one’s territory or settling the score.
Social Control Theories:
• Social control theorists assume people will commit crimes if left to their own
devices, so to speak. They argue that something must exist to prevent people from
• Accordingly, they argue that it is our connection to conventional others that
prevents us from committing crime.
• According to Durkheim’s theory of anomie, with industrialization and the
increasingly complexity and size of society, more deviance would be likely because
family and community ties would be weaker and thus individuals would have less to
lose if they did not conform.
• According to Durkheim’s idea about anomie, we would expect more homicide in
urban areas where people are believed to be less connected to other people. In
smaller towns and rural areas, we expect that individuals would be more likely to
know one another meaning that there would be less law violation.
Hirschi:According to social bond theory, the more we are connected to conventional
others in society, the less likely we will commit delinquent act.
• Hirschi explained that four major bonds connect individuals to society. 1.
Attachment (how close you are to conventional individuals) 2. Involvement—how
much time you spend doing legitimate activities 3. Commitment How dedicated you
are to accomplishing your goals by following legitimate routes. 4. Belief—you think
laws and norms of society make sense and should be upheld.
• If any of these bonds are weakened, delinquency or crime is likely.
• To explain homicide, we would expect that individuals who are not bonded to
others would be most likely to commit homicide.
AGeneral Theory of Crime:
• Hirschi and Gottfredson joined forces to propose the idea that it is a combination
of low self-control and opportunity that leads to criminal behaviour.
• Low self-control is the result of poor or absent parenting. With poor parenting,
children do not learn to set goals and work for what they want, and they never learn
to control their temper.As a result, they are impulsive and act without much thought
as to how it will affect others.
• This could be used to explain spur-of-the-monent murders. Neutralization Theory (Skyes and Matza, 1957):Aka drift theory, was used to explain
• Found that delinquent youth understood and knew the rules, however, they instead
drifted into and out of delinquent behaviour.
• They explained that the youth and others who partake in illegal or deviant
behaviour learned how to explain their situations in such a way that the delinquent or
illegal act was justified. These explanations are called techniques of neutralizations.
• The transgressor employs these techniques of neutralization before the person
violates the rules.
1. Denial of responsibility 2. Denial of Injury 3. Denial of Victim 4. Condemnation of the
Condemners 5.Appeal to Higher loyalties (pg. 89).
• To commit a delinquent act, Sykes and Matza explained that an individual would
only have to employ ONE of the techniques of neutralization.
• In relation to Homicide, using the denial of responsibility technique, a young
woman may decide to kill her stepfather because he has abused her and her younger
sister. She might think it is not her fault but his. He has essentially asked for his own
death. Aserial killer may believe he is making society better. He would be using the
denial of injury. Those who commit hate crime murders may employ the denial of
victim technique. They may kill others who they believe deserve to be killed, and
thus they do not see the victim a a victim. (Agang member who kills to protect the
gang’s turf may be using the appeal to higher loyalty technique as well).
Murder as Righteous Slaughter: Jack Katz argues that often when the killers and the
victims know one other, killers justify the crime in their own mind. They believe they are
preserving what is good.
• This may explain Joseau Torres, who allegedly walked in on Richard Tunley who
was beginning to molest his Torrest 2-year-old daughter sexually. Torres then
• Katz makes the point that in the spur of the moment the killer believes he or she is
justified in kill another.
• Using a phenomenological approach, Katz explains that the killer interprets the
situation at hand as one in which the potential victim is doing something the killer
cannot ignore. According to Katz, the killer turns person humiliation into rage,
killers see themselves pushed by forces greater than themselves.
Correlates of Homicide: Official statistics indicate that rates of homicide victimization
and offending are highest amongAfricanAmericans, southerners, men, lower-class
individual, and people who live in the United States.
Race and Homicide: The Culture of Violence:
• Wolfgang proposed a theory to explain the high number of homicides involving
AfricanAmerican men. Wolfgang and Ferracuti postulated that a subculture of
violence exists amongAfricanAmericans. Those who grew up in this subculture
learned that violence is an appropriate response in many situation. In fact, violence is
required whenever one is challenged. • Aperson who backed down from a challenge or ignored it, would be violating the
norms of the subculture of violence. Thus, Wolfgang and Ferracuti explained that
high rates of homicide among youngAfricanAmerican men were to be expected,
because violence was a norm, homicide was likely.
Region and Homicide: Southern Subculture of Violence:
• Some scholars have argued that a southern subculture of honour among southern
white men operates much like the subculture of violenceAmongAfricanAmericans.
• The southern culture of honour was developed to explain higher rates of homicide
in the Southern United States.
• According to the southern subculture of violence theory, white men have learned
that backing down is weak and unmanly. As a result, any affront to a southern man
must be answered with violence. If insulted, men in the South are expected to
retaliate with violence.
Lifestyle and RoutineActivities Theory:
• The fact that odds of being a murder victim are higher for some people and lower
for others may be explained by lifestyle and routine activities theory.
• Lifestyle theory focuses on how the lifestyle of an individual may place them at
risk for becoming a victim. During the 1980’s for example, many homicide victims
were believed to be young men involved in gangs and drug sales. Their involvement
increased their risk of homicide.
• Routine activities theory suggests that the routine behaviour of individuals may
increase or decrease their risk for murder.
o It suggests that three elements are required for crime: 1. Motivated
Offender 2. Availability of suitable target 3.Absence of capable guardians.
• Using routine activates theory, we can explain murder at both the macro and
o Young women as opposed to older women may be more likely to be raped
and murdered because younger women spend more time with younger
men, we would thus expect them to be victimized at higher rates because
those motivated to do such crimes are younger men.
o We may also explain higher numbers of homicide in certain
neighbourhood because the neighbourhoods are lacking effective
Men and Violence: Feminist Perspectives on Masculinity:
• Men use violence as a way to control others and to boost their masculine identity.
• Men’s use of violence is likely related to the positions they hold in society. In
other words, men who have alternative means to control others may not perceive the
need to use violence. Either way, masculinity and control seem to be linked
Social Stratification and Homicide: Data suggests that poor peope in the United States
and throughout the world are more likely to be found among homicide offenders and
victims than are indvidiauls in higher economic categories. • Social disorganization tradition suggests that violent crime rates tend to be higher
in communities where people are economically disadvantaged. Negative role models
may help foster criminal ways among youngsters.
• William Julius Wilson made the argument that high levels of concentrated
disadvantage and poverty generate high levels of crime including homicide.
Why do we kill so often in the United States?: economic stratification
• Studies indicate that countries with high-income inequality have higher rates of
homicide. In the Unites States we see great disparities between those at the top of
those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
• Second, people in the United States own guns, and assault with guns may more
likely end in death
• Third, like the subcultural arguments postulated to explain high rates of homicide
in the South and high rates of homicide among youngAfrican men, some argue that
we have a history and culture of violence in the United States.
The Role of Alcohol and Drug Use: Evidence suggests a strong relationship between
homicide and alcohol or illegal drug use. The evidence shows that over half the
homicides involve offenders or victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time
of the homicide incident. However, note that alcohol is more frequently involved than
Davies, Chapter. 7: Confrontational Homicide—3 questions
o Confrontational homicide—defined: those that begin with a public altercation
viewed as a contest of honor by at least one of the participants. The altercation then
quickly evolves into violence and ends in death.Also referred to as honor contest
violence, tend to occur in public places.
o Confrontational homicides tend to occur in places such as bars, parties,
parking lots and nearby streets and alleys
o The participants are often, but not always intoxicated, or under the influence
of alcohol or illicit substances.
Gender and Confrontational Homicide:
o Women generally make up less than 15% of homicide offenders in any country where
such statistics are kept.
Data on Confrontational Homicide:
o Based on Wolfgang’s study of homicide in Philadelphia, it may be surmised that
around a third of homicides are confrontational homicides because Wolfgang found
35% of the homicides he studied grew out of trivial altercations.
o Polk found slightly fewer causes, with 22% of all homicides in VictoriaAustralia.
History of Confrontational homicide:
o Cooney discusses homicides that are the result of feuding, brawling, dueling, and
lynching. o In the 15 century and lasting as late as the 19 century, dueling also lead to many
o Marvin Wolfgang found it was not uncommon for the victim of the homicide to
have been involved in the events of his death.
o Wolfgang introduced the term victim-precipitated homicide to describe
homicide situations in which the victim was first to employ “physical force against
the subsequent slayer.”
o He found that the victims in victim precipitated homicides were more likely to
be male andAfricanAmerican than in non-victim precipitated homicides.
o In the victim-precipitated homicides, 94% of the victims were male as compared
to 70% in non-victim-precipitated homicides (14%).
Homicides asASituated Transaction:
o Lukenbill emphasized that homicide is often the result of seemingly
inconsequential incidents that turn into “character contests.”
o Explained that most homicides are the result of a contest in which
adversaries interact in a way that at least on of them believed would keep
them from looking weak. He called these interactions, “situated
o Most homicides occurred when the offender and victim were partaking in leisure
activities such as dancing, partying, and importantly drinking alcoholic beverages.
o Most homicides occurred on the weekends between 6 P.M. and 2A.M
o Over 60% of the cases he studied involved victims and offenders who were either
related or were friends.
o Luckenbill found that these homicides followed a similar pattern in which the
eventual offender and victim each played a roll. Six stage process
1. Opening move—victim does something viewed as an affront by the offender (most
common is a comment viewed offensive. (41% of cases fit this scenario). (pp. 106)
2.The interpretation of the events in the opening move as an affron—offender perceives
something as offensive
3. Having determined that the victim has affronted him, the offender could excuse or
ignore the insult. However, the offenders make retaliatory move to save face and not sully
their own reputation.
4. Reputation is on the line—victim stands up and fights back.
5. Forging of a working agreement, at which time both offender and victim seem
committed to battle. During this stage a weapon of some sort is brought in.
6. Final move by offender—Following the homicide the offender makes three moves,
most often fleeing the scene. 1/3 of the cases he remained at the scene and in 1/5 of the
cases the offender was held involuntarily by observers until police arrive.
Importance of Audience:
• Felson found that most interpersonal aggression was a response to a perceived
rule violation and is thus justified by the aggressor. Further, males were more likely
than females to express their anger when insulted. • Felson also found that if third parties prompted the conflicts the interactions
tended to be more severe.
Confrontational Homicide and Culture of Honour
Subculture of Violence: Wolfgang found that much of the violence among the youth he
studied was a reaction to some trivial matter and that a young man who did not respond
to an affront with violence and aggression would be seen as weak.Argues that there is a
subculture of violence among lower-class males.
• According to Wolfgang, violence is seen as normal and expected in certain
situations amongAfricanAmericans and sometimes leads to death.
• Shihadeh and Steffenmeier found that inequality in those cities was much greater
amongAfricanAmericans. Thus,AAhad more economic hardships leading to them
to argue that higher rates of violence amongAfricanAmericans in urban settings are
not necessarily the result of culture but because of structure.
Southern Subculture of Honour:
• Southern subculture of honour is similar to the subculture of violence I that both
the theories propose high levels of violence among particular groups of people can
be explained by a subculture that requires men to react violently to insults that could
potentially damage their reputation.
• However, the southern subculture of violence explains violence by southern white
men rather than violence by urbanAfricanAmerican youth.
Population and homicide table distribution by region, 2004: pg. 111.
• This culture of honor requires men stand up to any affront to their honour. This
culture has been passed down through generations of southerners. (pg. 112).
Confrontational Homicide: Is it a Mans World?
• Fred Adler and Rita Simon postulated links between the women’s movement and
women’s offending behaviour. In essence, Simon posulated that the womens
movement encouraged and allowed women to be more like men (masculinity
• Rita Simon proposed a connection between increases in women’s offending
behaviour and the women’s movement as well. However, she proposed that where
women’s offending increased, it was not because they were becoming more
masculine but simply that women’s movement had helped women gain more
o She believed that the women’s movement would in fact lead to fewer
violent offences such as homicide among women.
o An examination of the data suggests that women’s homicide offending has
o Nearly 2 out of 3 (38.7%) homicides committed by women involved
domestic violence, suggesting that confrontational homicide is not likely
to be the most common type of homicide committed by women.
Davies, Chapter. 15—Homicide in Court: 10 questions • First of all, approximately half of the defendants charged with murder accept plea
bargains to avoid the harshest penalties. Second, almost half of murder defendants
in large urban counties have public defenders (Reaves, 2006). Third, although
some trials just take one day, they tend to be longer in real life and more mundane
than they are on television.
• Once the suspect is arrested the case is in the hands of the prosecuting attorney
(aka the district attorney or DA). The district attorney decides whether to charge
the accused as well s what to change them with.
• It’s common for the prosecuting attorney to charge murder defendants with
several crimes. For example, in 2003, 61% of defendants charged with murder
were also charged with another feolony.
• Within 48 hours of an arrest in the United States, the accused must be brought
before the judge to be advised of the charges.
• Probable cause hearing may also happen is they have been arrested without a
Pretrial Release: Pretrial release on bail is less likely in homicide cases than in other
types of crime. Nearly ¾ of those eventually convicted of murder were denied bail or
had bail amounts of at least $100,000.
Grand Jury: Are part of the pretrial stage in federal criminal courts and in nearly
half of state courts.
• Meet in secret and prosecutor presents evidence to support going forward with
case against accused.
• In the majority of the grand jury believes there is enough evidence to proceed
with the case, the defendant is indicted and the case is said to be a ‘true bill.’
Arraignment: If it is determined that probable causes exists to justify continuing the trial
according to the grand jury or the preliminary hearing, the next step is the arraignment
where the defendant enters his or her plea.
• With a guilty plea, the defender admits to the acts they are accused of and the
judge schedules a sentencing hearing.
• Nolo contender, or no contest, is a please that the accused admits criminal
liability, but does not actually admit guilt
• Aplea of not guilty is the defendants way of saying that they want the prosecution
to make a case against them.Anot guilty plea means there will be a trial.
Plea Bargaining: Adeal made between the prosecuting attorney and the defendant.
• Prosecutors who are certain the offender is guilty may prefer to plea-bargain if the
case against the offender is weak or to avoid the expense and time of a trial and to
guarantee a guilty plea.Accused persons may agree to this in order to avoid the
risk of a harsh sentence
• Plea bargaining is common for those accused of murder, non-negligent
manslaughter, and other violent crimes in the United States. However, trials are
more likely in murder and non-negligent manslaughter causes than in other felony
cases. • The number of trials for robbery, burglary, and larceny were comparable to the
number of homicide trials, meaning that they are a regular occurrence in the
Pretrial Motions: Attorneys may file pretrial motions in which they make a request for a
judge. Defense attorneys often make a motion for discovery, which asks that the
prosecution reveal to the defense the evidence against them.
Jury Selection: If a murder defendant pleads not guilty, a jury in then selected.
• For a jury to be considered impartial, the jurors must be unbiased and selection
from a venire, a group of potential jurors, that is representative of the community
from which it is selected.
• Some refer to it as a ‘deselection process’because the goal is to excuse
individuals with extreme views in order to assemble an impartial jury.
• Juries in murder trials usually consist of 12 jurors and at least 2 alternates.
• The process of jury selection is called voir dire, a French phrase that is translated
to ‘to speak to truth.’
• During the voir dire, the judge and often defense and prosecution attorneys, ask
potential jurors questions that are meant to discover whether there are reasons for
excluding particular individuals from the jury.
• Challenges for cause are used when it is believed the potential juror cannot be
impartial or fair usually because of a conflict of interest.
Scientific Jury Selection:
• Academic research suggests tat personality and demographic features that social
scientists have studied account for no more than 15% of the variance in verdicts.
• Proponents of scientific jury selection argue that academic research is often
• Essentially an outline of what each side intends to present during a trial.
Presentation of Evidence:
• The prosecution has the onus of proving the perpetrator committed the crime for
which they have been charged with. The defense does not have the same burden.
However they, usually in cross-examination of the prosecutors witnesses and
through evidence of their own attempt to show that the defendant is not guilty.
• Direct evidence is evidence that proves a fact. The testimony from a witness who
testifies witnesses a murder would be direct evidence.
• Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence. The jury or judge must deduce
what happened from the evidence, there is nothing that directly links the offender
to the crime.
Defenses to Murder:
• The three general defense to the charge of murder are alibi, justifications and
Alibi: Is a denial instead of a defense, either way, when murder defendants use an alibi,
they are arguing that they could not have killed the victim because they were somewhere
else when the victim was killed. Justifications: Murder defendants who employ a justification defense admit that they
killed the victim, but they argue that it was necessary to prevent great harm to themselves
1. Consent: Adefendant may use the defense of consent when any harm done
occurred after the victim have their permission for a harmful act. I.e. Dr. Kevorkian who
helped patients end their lives when they were suffering from illness.
2. Necessity: May be used if the defendant commit a crime to prevent a greater harm.
Acceptable arguments of the necessity to commit murder are unlikely. Most situations
you might imagine as possibly being appropriate for a defense of necessity are probably
covered by the defenses of self-defense and defense of others.
3. Self Defense: The law of self-defense states that an individual may use reasonable
force against another when the individual reasonably believes the other person is
threatening them with imminent and unlawful harm.
4. Defense of Others: May be able to claim defense of others as a defense of murder. The
force used against the other must be reasonable and the person one is defending must be
in imminent danger. However, a person will not be released if they are defending a person
who started the altercation.
5. Defense of Home and Property: In most places, you do not have the right to kill to
protect your property unless you are in imminent danger.
• Related to stand your ground laws, which in Florida allows individuals to use
deadly force against intruders who enter their homes.Accordingly, police are not
permitted to arrest or detain an individual; nor may a person be prosecuted for
killing an offender who forcefully entered their home. E
Excuses: Excuses in murder cases are used by defendants who admit they committed a
crime, but argue that they were not legally responsible at the time of the crime. Examples
include: age, involuntary intoxication, provocation, and insanity.
Age—Common law does not consider children younger than 7 to be capable of mens rea.
Defendants older than 7 but younger than 14 may also attempt to employ age as a defense
in murder cases.
Involuntary intoxication: If a person is drugged against their own will or tricketed into
taking a substance that negates the individuals mens rea, the person may be found not
Provocation: To prove this, the defense would have to prove the defendant lost emotional
control because of some provocation on the part of the victim. Insanity: Those who claim insanity are arguing that because they were mentally ill at the
time of the crime, they could not have had a guilty mind. They were ‘out of their mind’
and thus not capable of having a guilty mind.
• The substantial capacity test is a more relaxed standard for determining if a
defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Closing Arguments: The attorneys summarize their cases without presenting any new
Sentencing: In death penalty cases, the defendant guilty is charged with the task of
recommending a sentence of a judge. In non capital cases however, the sentencing
decision is directly a responsibility od the judge in most U.S. jurisdictions.
• A1999 study fount tat 95% of defendants convicted of murder or nonnegligent
manslaughter in state or federal court were sentenced to incarceration. Only 5%
were sentenced to probation.
Death Penalty Cases: Research indicates that there are racial and gender disparity in
death penalty sentencing.
• The odds of a death sentence were over 1.75 times greater (Ohio) in cases I which
a white person was killed as compared to cases with nonwhite victims.
• Similarly, those in death penalty—eligible cases who killed women were 2.6
times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who killed men.
• Finally, offenders who killed white women were more likely to be sentenced to
death than those who killed white men orAfricanAmericans based on either sex.
• Research indicates that there greatest racial disparity in the criminal justice
treatment occurs during the indictment or charging stage. Prosecutors are more
likely to seek the death penalty when the victim is a white women and least likely
when the victim is anAfricanAmerican man.
Davies, Chapt. 16—The Impact of Homicide: 5 questions
• References to murder and killing are commonplace in todays society as is the
slaughter of human beings for entertainment. If you are fortunate enough to not have
been personally affected by murder, you may never have thought about what life
might have been for those friends and loved ones who have lost friends to murder or
those whose family members or friends have committed murder.
• Whether they are called homicide survivors and co-victims, family members and
friends of murder victims suffer immensely when their loved ones are taken away by
murder. However, these individuals are not are not counted by FBI or other
organizations that keep track of the number of victimizations.
• Anational prevalence survey in the United States in 1991 found that 9.3% of
those sampled were homicide survivors.
• If we project this finding to the adult population of the United States that means
there are approximately 28 million homicide survivors in the United States.
• The sparse research on homicide survivors suggests there are unique problems
faced by those whose loved ones are murdered • Homicide survivors experience deeper and longer lasting trauma.
• Homicide survivors must contend with the fact that their love ones died because
someone willfully took their lives.
• Survivors sometimes feel that the press invades their privacy or portrays their
loved ones in an unfavorable light.
• They must also content with the anger they have for the murdered of their loved
one as well as the social stigma and isolation involved in having a loved one
• Survivors experiences with the criminal justice system are often problematic; it is
common for them to feel ignored or pushed out of the justice process all together.
• Also, fewer homicides are cleared today than in the past. As a result, many
survivors must face the reality that their loved one was murdered by someone who
• Although each survivors does not have the same experience many feel: numb,
fearful, guilty, rage, and anxiety. Feelings of helplessness and apprehension are
common as is survivor guilt.
• It is not uncommon for survivors to experience post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD). In fact, research indicates that PTSD is more prevalent in murder survivors
than in people who lose loved ones to other cases including accidents and suicide.
• Interpersonal relationships are also affected by the murder of a loved onethe
stress of losing a child often results in divorce for couples whose child is murdered.
Families may also be torn apart when the murder offender and victim are related to
• Research on homicide survivors indicates that many suffer from a, “complicates
bereavement,” in which they cannot reconcile their loss.
• Research indicates that prayer, church attendance, psychotherapy, and
antidepressants FAIL to reduce the pail and trauma or decrease the PTSD
experienced by most homicide survivors. For some survivors, support group help
makes a difference.
• Survivors must also contend with extrapersonal loss: paying medical bills in an
effort to save their loved one; some lose their homes or have major social status
change related to the loss of the victims income. If there is a trial, survivors may find
it difficult to maintain their jobs or earn money to pay their bills while attending all
of the criminal justice proceedings.
• The media also presents a problem for survivors: reports can be insensitive when
asking questions; pictures of the victims may be broadcast on the news or paper
without consent; family members may have to deal with media camping outside their
houses and publishing unflattering details about their loved ones.
Survivors and the Criminal Justice System
• Crimes in the United States and many other countries are viewed as crimes
against the state instead of crimes against individual victims.
• The system is structured so the victims role is peripheral, victims have not
traditionally been informed about the investigation of the murder and they are often
considered suspects by police. • Interactions with the criminal justice system increase homicide survivors feelings
• Many survivors also express frustration at the seemingly better treatment that the
criminal justice system provides to offenders in comparison to the families of the
• Common practices such as plea-bargaining, not-guilty verdicts, and reduced
sentences for good behaviour or because of overcrowding can also add to the
helplessness and lack of control that survivors feel.
• One study indicates that family members who experienced a trial had higher
depression than family members whose cases were still unsolved.
Victims Rights Movement: During the 1970’s feminists made progress in establishing
nattered women’s shelters and encouraged legislatures to institute rape shield laws.
• The National Organization for VictimAssistance was founded in 1975.
• In 1978--Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) was founded after the Hulligers
19 year old daughter was murdered by her former boyfriend.
• POMC and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began demanding that the
criminal justice system pay attention to victims and see beyond the state and the
defendant in criminal proceedings.
• In 1984 the Victims of CrimeAct (VOCA) was passed, which provides funds for
victim assistance programs and state victim compensation.
• In 1972, Carol Vitteret witnessed an assault and robbery. She took the victim
home and then established the first U.S. victim assistance program.
• Aids for Victims of Crime, still provides services to victims in the St. Louis area
• Her work was expanded in 19784 when the first government/witness programs
were established with funds from the Law EnforcementAssistanceAdministration.
(pg. 300 Rights of Federal Victims).
Victim Compensation: One response to the victims movement in the U.S. was the
establishment of victim compensation funds to provide financial reimbursement to
victims for the losses they incurred during a crime.
• Victim compensation funds were originally established to provide monetary
assistance for those in need. However, today one need not needy to receive victim
compensation funds. Victims are considered deserving simply because they have
• Nearly 200,000 victims are helped by victim compensation programs each year in
the United States at a cost of approximately $450 million. (Most are funded through
offender fines and alone with federal funding).
• Most often only victims of violent crimes who suffer physical injury or emotional
trauma qualify for compensation
Victim Impact Statements: Victim impact statements were introduced into criminal trials
as a way for victims to indicate the impact the crime has had on them. • Those who felt they had a say in the process fared better than those who were not
informed and were not included in the process.
• The idea of retributive justice is to repair the wrong done to the victim and the
community by bringing the offender, victim and community members together.
• Restorative justice encourages communication between offenders and those they
have hurt through victim/offender mediation. The goal is to allow the offender tow
ok toward repairing the harm he or she has caused and to reintegrate them into
society. (pp. 303)
The Cost of Homicide, Literally:
• TheAustralian Institute of Criminology (AIC) assessed the cost of homicide in
Australia in 2001 to be $930 million. They included medical costs and lost output as
well as intangible costs calculated as the monetary value of pain, suffering, and the
loss of quality life.
• Lost output refers to the cost of paid and unpaid labour that victims can no longer
• TheAIC determined:
o Medical costs for homicide in 2001 was $4.5 million
o Lost output equaled $700 million
o And the intangible costs were determined to be almost $225 million.
o In total then the total for allAustralian homicides in 2001 according to the
AIC equaled a little over $731 million U.S. based on 589 homicides.
• In 2001, the United States had 13,752 homicides.Assuming that the cost per
homicide were the same the U.S. costs would be $22 billion.
• Amazingly, these high costs do not include the criminal justice costs, such as the
cost of investigating homicides, prosecuting offenders, and housing the convicted.
• Finally, theAIC figure that puts the cost of homicide in the United States in the
$22 billion range also does not factor in the costs of supporting victim’s dependents
and the emotional and mental health costs of survivors.
The Murderers Family:
• Offenders families deal with man of the same issues and emotions as victim’s
families. Both experience emotional stress, stigmatization, insensitive media, loss of
income, and to a lesser extent, the loss of a loved one.
• Family and friends of offenders often also feel stigmatized. Often they are
ostracized and isolated, or some people seek them out because they are related to a
• Parents of murderers may be held responsible or blamed for the offenders
• The offenders family may feel a loss of control and privacy as their lives become
fodder for the public.
• Finding out that family member has murdered another human being can be
emotionally devastating. may experience denial, guilt, anger or betrayal.
• Families of murdered may find it more difficult to find support. Criminal Justice Personnel and Reporters: Sometimes we forget the stresses that
personnel involved with the reality of murder everyday.
• Law enforcement is a particularly stressful job, and research indicates that the
stress is more pronounced for homicide investigators.
o They often feel it is their personal responsibility to solve the murders and
avenge the murder. Fatigue, long hours, and the inability to share the
horrors they witness often result in relationship and emotional problems.
o May also experience stress related to the murders. Court workers who
must witness details of murder during trials may find themselves either
growing callous to descriptions of violence or, alternately, they may
experience nightmares and find they are less trustful of others after
learning the horrible details of some murders.
• Similarly, defense and prosecuting attorneys may struggle with the reality of
murder at the level they must deal with. Prosecuting attorneys are likely to share with
homicide investigators the need to seek vengeance for the murder cases they try.
Serving asAJuror in a Murder Trial (pp. 309)
Fascination with Homicide(pp. 309).
Murderabilia: Serial killer memorabilia are items sold by collectors, dealers, or the killers
themselves. It is an example of the glamorization of crime in our culture and the failure to
recognize the suffering by victims and their families.
Son of Sam Laws: In 1977, this law was enacted by the New York State Legislature to
keep convicted murders such as David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam) from making any
money from the sale of stories about the crimes they committed (311).
Davies, Chapt. 17—Stopping Murder: 7 questions
• Incapacitation and capital punishment can also be perceived as homicide
prevention initiatives in that they are expected to deter future violence and homicide.
• Davies discusses the evidence that is available that sheds some light on the
deterrent effects of these sanctions.
• In addition, the role of gun control and related legislation is also discussed in this
chapter and how it is different in Canada compared to the United States.
Deterrence: Based on the premise that punishment will dissuade would-be offenders
from committing crimes.
• Apenalty is said to be a general deterrent to murder if it successfully prevents the
masses from killing
• Aspecific deterrent is aimed at a particular offender.
Incapacitation: Selective incapacitation is intended for those who are believed to be very
likely to offend because they have offended in the past.
• Another reason for incapacitation of convicted murdered is to prevent them from
killing again. • Criminologists have attempted to determine whether incarceration reduces
• Marvell and Moody (1997) found that a 10% increase in the prison population
was associated with nearly 13% fewer homicides from 1930 to 1994.
Targeting Youth Gangs Reduction Through Lever-Pulling Strategies:
• Officials in Boston began working together in an attempt to reduce the number of
murders in their cities.
• They found that a small portion of the population was responsible for much of the
homicide in their city.
o 1% of the city’s youth population was responsible for at least 60% of the
homicides. This 1% tended to be gang members.
• Implemented project ‘Ceasefire,’a so-called lever-pulling strategy that aims to
stop violent crime by being extremely tough on crime.
• The plan is to pull every lever or in other words, use every strategy to prosecute
and punish and one who uses a gun in the commission of crime.
• This project ‘ceasefire’brought gang members, paroles, and probationers together
in town meetings where the new approach to gun crimes was emphasized.
• Criminal justice agencies prosecuted offenders to the fullest.
• Violent gang offending and youth violence dropped after the implementation of
• Applies it in Minneapolis and Indianapolis (IVRP), resulting in a decrease in
• One popular policy known as ‘three strikes and you’re out’was instituted to
incapacitate and deter offenders from making a career out of crime. This
mandated sentence enhancements for individuals who were convicted of a serious
crime for the second or third time.
• Studies that have examined the impact of three-srike laws, have fialed to
demonstrate their success.
• Specifically, with regard to homicide, three studies found that three strike laws
did not work
• Ovandzic theorized that the positive association could be explained in a number
1. First, research on criminals suggests they do not believe they will be caught and thus
deterrence does not work.
2. Perpetrators may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and thus not think about th
consequences of their actions when they kill.
3. The strikes law may have made it more likely for offenders to kill witnesses so the
perpetrators would not be identified and arrested.
Capital Punishment as a Deterrent:
• Most research supports the contention that capital punishment fails to deter
murder. • Research shows that death penalty states do not have lower homicide rates than
non-death penalty states.
• Ultimately, it have been found that capital punishment and its attendant publicity
fails to deter murder. However, this shouldn’t be that surprising, often murder is a
crime of passion—the offender does not stop to consider the punishment.
Gun Control in the United States:
• Opponents of gun control argue that guns do not cause violence and moreover,
gun ownership by law-abiding citizens may even deter violence.
• Unfortunately, there is no consensus within the field of criminology.
Gun Control and Gun buybacks in Australia:
• The NFAmay have reduced gun suicides, but it had no effect on gun homicides
and accidental shooting deaths.
Concealed Weapon Laws:
• The argument that concealed handgun laws may reduce violent crimes including
murder. Those motivated to commit crimes may be less likely to take a chance in
attacking another person because that person may be armed.
• An examination of the effects of concealed weapons laws in 24 states found that
the laws do not reduce homicide or other violent crimes.
It’s the Economy Stupid:
• U.S. homicide rates fell dramatically in the 1990’s.
• Explanations for this decrease may help us point to structural (sociological
factors) that will help us prevent homicide.
• At the same time homicide and other crime was decreasing, the U.S. economy
grew as measured by the GDP per capita, and the unemployment rate decreased
from an annual average.
• If unemployment is related to homicide, policies for decreasing homicide should
consider increasing the employability of potential offenders.
• Attempt to figure out what may have led to a death and what may have prevented
it. The thought is that these reviews may result in the discovery of patterns
contributing to murders that may be staved off with the introduction of new
policies and practices.
Improving Medical Responses and TechnologicalAdvances: Homicide may be
reduced by improving emergency medical responses.
• The ever-increasing availability of cell phones and improved cell phone service,
as well as improvements in medical care, could explain decreasing murder rates
throughout the United States.
• With these ideas in mind, another approach to preventing homicide may be to
increase emergency response times, improve trauma centers, and perhaps increase
the number of medical facilities capable of handling trauma cases.
• This will not reduce violence, but may prevent homicides by prevents aggravated
assaults from truning into murders. • Following the idea of routine activities theory; it is possible hat surveillance
camera’s could prevent murder: motivated offenders; suitable targets, absence of
effective guardians. If camera’s are present would be offenders may refrain from
• Violence prevention programs focus on teaching children how to solve conflicts
without resorting to violence.Amajor difficulty however is determining whether
such programs have an effect of reducing homicide in the long term.
• Peacebuilders—found that the children wer less aggressive and more prosocial
than children not involved in the program. Greatest effect was on first and second
Domestic Violence Intervention:
• The majority of intimate partner murders are the culmination of violent
relationships, thus one way to reduce murder is to reduce domestic violence.
• Acommunity must not tolerate any domestic violence if it is to be prevented.
Reducing Confrontational Homicide:
• Studies indicate that in over half of all homicides involving adult males in
England and Wales, either the victim or offender had consumed alcohol.
• Many of these could be classified as confrontational homicides.
• One approach, often called environmental design, involves the physical design of
pubs and clubs to make them seem more spacious.
• Another approach involved training staff so they are more likely to reduce the
potential violence than escalate it.