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Homicide in the District of Columbia

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1988
This report details homicide in Washington D.C. with descriptions of the victim and the assailant along with the patterns and prevention of homicide.

The population for this study includes all homicide victims and persons arrested for homicide in the District of Columbia from January 1985 through June 1988. Victims of homicide, according to 1987 National data, are likely to be young black males, and the weapon is usually a gun. These factors are also characteristic of homicide in D.C. Data indicate that about 63 percent of these victims had some type of drug or alcohol in their systems. Information about the assailant refers to individuals arrested for homicide in the District, and not necessarily people who have been convicted for committing homicide. The profile of the alleged assailant is similar to that of the homicide victim -- young, black males. Cocaine is the most common drug used by persons arrested for homicide. Patterns of homicide noted were: (1) most took place on weekend days; (2) most occurred between 9:00 pm and 3:00 am; (3) most victims lived in the same neighborhoods as their assailants and were killed in their own neighborhoods; (4) homicides resulting from drug motives escalated to 51 percent in 1987; and (5) most victims know their assailants. Homicide is the leading cause of death among black males aged 15 to 34. Racism, social class and poverty are suggested as factors which result in this disproportionate share of black involvement. Some recommendations for homicide prevention put forth at a District conference in June 1988 include: more research into its causes, youth education and outreach programs, counseling and treatment, job-search programs, and enforcement of gun control laws. Appendix.

Date Published: December 1, 1988