As violent crime nationally slows in growth or declines, the U.S. faces a dramatic – but hardly noticed – increase in murders by and of young African-American men, says a new Northeastern University study reported by the Houston Chronicle. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of black male juveniles murdered increased by 31 percent and the number of black perpetrators by 43 percent. The increases were even greater when guns were used as weapons. Focusing on the period between 2000-01 and 2006-07, the study found Houston at the top of a list of 28 U.S. cities, with a 139 percent rise in the number of young African-Americans suspected in killings. In 2006-07, 129 young black men were murdered in the city, up from 42 in 2000-01.
Study co-author James Fox said, “It’s absolutely a growing concern, not a one-year blip.” Fox and criminologist Marc Swatt, argued that the increases occurred as the federal government cut support for community policing and intervention programs put in place to combat a rise in gang violence in the 1990s. Shape Community Center’s Deloyd Parker asked about the study, “When they say ‘offender,’ does that mean someone who’s charged with a crime or been convicted?” Sometimes even being convicted doesn’t mean you’re actually guilty.” Fox responded that the number of young offenders was calculated from instances in which “police knew who did the crime” and through a statistical process called “imputation.”