Young African-American Males: Continuing Victims of High Homicide Rates in Urban Communities.Report as inadecuate

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To measure the extent of the progress that has been made in the fight against violent crime over the past decade and to get some perspective on the progress that must still be made, this analysis examines the data for one of the most vulnerable groups in the United States, young African American males who reside in eight of the largest U.S. cities. The analysis of 1991 and 1997 homicide data from these communities finds that, despite some progress, urban black males continue to face a high risk of dying from homicide, even after accounting for the recent fall in homicide rates. Based on 1998 murder rates, the average 15-year-old male faced a 1 in 185 probability of being murdered before reaching age 45, but 1 in 12 young African American males in the District of Columbia could expect to be murdered before age 45, and 1 in every 53 young black males in Brooklyn, New York, could expect to be murdered by that age. In spite of this gloomy picture, the large-scale reductions in black homicide rates achieved in Brooklyn, New York, have undercut an older academic prejudice that fighting crime is beyond the competence of public authorities or the capacities of the police. The report does not draw definitive conclusions about why homicide rates have declined, but the evidence does suggest that law enforcement policies may be contributing. An appendix discusses the estimation of homicide probabilities for 1998. (SLD)

Descriptors: Adolescents, Blacks, Homicide, Males, Urban Youth, Violence, Young Adults

Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 202-546-4400; Web site:

Author: Davis, Gareth G.; Muhlhausen, David B.


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