Stability and change in homicide victim, offender, and event characteristics in Chicago, 1900 and 2000

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Stability and change in homicide victim, offender, and event characteristics in Chicago, 1900 and 2000

Category: Homicide|Journal: Homicide Studies (full text)|Author: J Gruenewald, W Pridemore|Year: 2009

This study took advantage of unique historical data to explore change and stability in homicide victim, offender, and event characteristics in Chicago between two time periods, 1898-1902 and 1998-2002. Data on Chicago homicides from 1898 to 1902 were extracted from the Chicago Police Department Homicide Record Index (compiled by the Chicago Historical Homicide Project), and data from 1998 to 2002 were taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report. Odds ratios were employed to compare homicide characteristics between time periods to examine change and stability on victim (sex, race, age), offender (sex, race), and event (type of weapon, victim—offender relationship, circumstance) characteristics. The results showed significant (a) increases in the proportion of victims who were Black and aged 15-29, the proportion of offenders who were female and Black, and the proportion of family, gun, and profit-motivated homicides and (b) decreases in stranger and argument-related homicides and in the proportion of victims who were female. This study contextualizes these results by discussing how demographic, structural, and cultural changes in Chicago over the course of the 20th century might have influenced stability and change in these characteristics.

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