Violent Victimization and Race

If I had a penny for every minute of my life I’ve spent plowing statistics and reports from the United States Department of Justice I would be a wealthy woman. As it is I make due with the hope that one day, all of that plowing will pay off. In whatever form it may choose to take. A huge section of my research work has centred around criminal victimisation. Anyone who has ever made a concentrated effort to really look at this area will tell you, its not one you can move on from.

This is the main reason, more so than actually needing research material, that articles such as these grab my attention the way they do. I have been eating these kind of reports up for the past two years. I use to think that if I crunched the numbers enough and swirled them around on paper with their buddies that I would be able to make some sense of the real life events that the numbers represented. Now I wonder if I really want to.

In all events….here’s a press release put out by the number crunchers themselves, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics on 18th March 2001. I’ve tried to document it as best I can. Hopefully by the time it gets around to being read I’ll have the entire report up and running via those lovely people at Adobe. In the meantime here’s a whiff.

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EST SUNDAY, March 18, 2001 202/307-0784 DIFFERENCES IN RATES OF VIOLENT CRIME EXPERIENCED BY WHITES AND BLACKS NARROW American Indians Are The Most Victimized By Violence WASHINGTON, D.C. — Violent victimization of both blacks and whites has decreased significantly since 1993, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today in a report analyzing crime statistics from 1993-1998. The study focused on rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault. During the period studied, victimization rates among whites decreased 29 percent, and victimization of blacks decreased 38 percent, narrowing the differences between the rates of the two groups. Among Hispanic people (who can be of any race) the rate of violent victimization fell 45 percent between 1993 and 1998. Declines in violent victimization rates among American Indians and Asians were not statistically significant.

Violent crime against whites and blacks was committed primarily by members of the victims’ own race: Sixty-six percent of white victims and 76 percent of black victims stated the offender was of the same race as the victim. American Indian and Asian victims, however, were most often victimized by an offender of a different race.

American Indians were victims of violent crime at about twice the rate of blacks, whites or Asians during 1998, when they experienced 110 violent victimizations per 1,000 American Indians age 12 and older, compared to 43 victimizations per 1,000 blacks, 38 per 1,000 whites and 22 per 1,000 Asians. American Indians accounted for about half of 1 percent of the U.S. population but 1.3 percent of all violent crime victims: In addition, American Indian females were victimized by an intimate partner at rates higher than others–23 per 1,000 American Indians females, 11 per 1,000 black females, 8 per 1,000 white females and 2 per 1,000 Asian females between 1993 and 1998. Sixty-six percent of intimate partner violence against black females was reported to the police compared to 52 percent against Asian females, 51 percent against American Indians and 51 percent against white females. The most often cited reason for not reporting the violence was because it was a “private or personal matter” or the victim “feared reprisal.”

The study also showed that blacks were murdered at far higher rates than other U.S. residents. During 1998 there were 23 blacks murdered compared to 4 whites and 3 victims of other races per 100,000 persons of each racial group. On average each year between 1993 and 1998, the homicide rate fell 5 percent for whites, 7 percent for blacks and 8 percent for persons of other races.

In 1993, there were 12,435 black homicide victims and 11,278 white victims of homicide; in 1998, there were 7,903 black victims of homicide and 8,359 white victims. Offenders had a firearm in a higher percentage of crimes against black (18 percent of violence victims) and Asian victims (14 percent), compared to white (8 percent) and American Indian (9 percent) victims. American Indians (35 percent) and black (29 percent) victims of violence were more likely to report being injured during the crime than were whites (24 percent) and Asians (23 percent).

These data were gathered using BJS’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which from 1993 to 1998 interviewed approximately 574,000 people 12 years old or older in 293,000 U.S. households. The NCVS has been continuously administered by the Department of Justice since 1973. The Bureau of the Census carries out the interviews of the U.S. population for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The information on homicide was obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Reporting program which gathers data from State and local law enforcement agencies across the nation. The special report, “Violent Victimization and Race, 1993-98” (NCJ-176354), was written by BJS statistician Callie Rennison. Single copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and selecting document number 231. Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358.

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