Homicide Crimes by Race in the U.S.

Continuing on with the crime theme from Monday, I am writing on another facet of hotly discussed crime data: race-on-race crimes. I had briefly read about a debate where former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that black offenders are responsible for most of the murders in the U.S. Because I have never looked at the data, I wanted to try and educate myself and share what I learned.

I am taking a looking at four combinations of race-on-race crime involving whites and blacks in America. Among white-on-white crime, black-on-black crime, white-on-black crime, and black-on-white data, which group(s) really are the biggest threat to American society?

EXPLORING HOMICIDE DATA BY RACE

Since the list of crimes that can be analyzed is extensive, I am going to only look at homicides. The FBI Expanded Homicide Data table that I refer to in the breakdown and in the sources qualifies the table: It is only for single victim/single offender homicides.

Another important note. At the bottom of the page is a caveat about the data in this table that reads:

NOTE: This table is based on incidents where some information about the offender is known by law enforcement; therefore, when the offender age, sex, and race are all reported as unknown, these data are excluded from the table.

This means that data collection is incomplete, and we should not place our complete confidence in this table to track this data. It might come close, but we don’t know that. The data could be seriously skewed in one direction or the other.

Please keep this in mind as you read through. Any errors in calculations are my own.

FBI Expanded Homicide Data Table 6

Race of victim      Total Race of offender
White Black or
African
American
Other1 Unknown
White 3,005 2,5091 4093 49 38
Black or African American 2,491 1892 2,2454 20 37
Other race2 159 32 27 96 4
Unknown race 68 25 17 3 23
Column Totals 5,723 2,755 2,698 168 102

Let’s break down the data using the above chart.

I am focusing on whites/blacks because they make up the bulk of homicide victims/offenders. I added in four superscripts in order to refer to them later int his post. I also added in the last row labeled Column Totals so that I could perform some calculations based on the total number of homicide victims and offenders.

Homicides with White Victims

White-on-White Homicides

In the above table, superscript notation #1 shows us the number white victim/white offender homicides. Of the 3,005 homicides with white victims, 2,509 or 83.94% were killed by white offenders.

Black-on-White Homicides

In the above table, superscript notation #3 shows us the number white victim/black offender homicides. Of the 3,005 homicide with white victims, 409 or 13.61% were killed by black offenders.

Homicides with Black Victims

White-on-Black Homicides

In the above table, superscript notation #2 shows us the number black victim/white offender homicides. Of 2,491 homicides with black victims, 189 or 7.58% or were killed by white offenders.

Black-on-Black Homicides

In the above table, superscript notation #2 shows us the number black victim/white offender homicides. Of 2,491 homicides with black victims, 2,245 or 90.12% were killed by black offenders.

Homicides by Race of offenders

In the above table, I added the last row to the table so that I could run some calculations based on total homicides (5,723), total white offenders (2,755), total black offenders (2,698), etc.

Homicides by White Offenders

The total number of homicides by white offenders is 2,755. Using basic math, I calculate that 48.14% (2,755/5,723) of homicides are committed by white offenders.

Homicides by Black Offenders

The total number of homicides by black offenders is 2,698. Using basic math, I calculate that 47.14% (2,698/5,723) of homicides are committed by black offenders.

Some Thoughts on the Data

On the matter of interracial homicides, whites are largely responsible for white murder victims (83.94%) and blacks are largely responsible for black murder victims (90.12%). With these high numbers, I think you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone that murder victims are safer from those of their own race, whether black or white. Even if black victims are more likely to be murdered by a black offender than a white offender, that’s hardly consolatory to anyone.

On the subject of interracial homicides, incidents of white-on-black homicides (189 or 7.58%) are lower than black-on-white homicides (409 or 13.61%). How much lower? Black offenders killed white victims at 1.79 times the rate that white offenders killed black victims.

On its face, this rate makes it seem like whites are at a tremendously higher threat of homicide from black offenders. However, I think it’s important to look at the actual numbers as well. You are talking about a difference of 220 people (409-189) out of a population in the United States of over 316 million. How many is 220 out of 316 million? Negligible in terms of statistics.

To the families of the homicide victims everyone, however, the lives of those victims are priceless.

Sources

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/11/25/giulianis-claim-that-93-percent-of-blacks-are-killed-by-other-blacks/  A Washington post article on Guiliani’s crime data claim

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls  FBI Expanded Homicide Data Table

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