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Homicide Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1992
In 1988 the District of Columbia had a record number of homicides and became distinguished for the highest homicide rate in the country. Subsequently, a study was initiated to assess homicide victims and persons arrested for homicide between 1986 and 1991.

Over the study period, as the number of homicides increased, victim age decreased. In 1986 about 44 percent of homicide victims were under 30 years of age; by 1991 this figure increased to 65 percent. In 1990, 93 percent of homicide arrestees were black males, compared with 83 percent in 1986. Nearly two-thirds of assailants had not completed high school. Criminal records of homicide arrestees indicated that 42 percent had prior criminal convictions. Of the 20 percent of arrestees with cases pending, about one-third were on release for either dangerous or violent charges and one-third for drug offenses at the time they were arrested for the current homicide charge. For cases closed with no finding of guilt, 32 percent of the defendants had a subsequent arrest. Drug positivity for homicide arrestees was substantially lower than that for the general arrestee population. For persons convicted of homicide, 44 percent had either historically or at the time of conviction participated in government-sponsored support programs. Homicides were most often committed between 9 p.m. and 12 midnight. In 1991, 78 percent of homicides resulted from shootings. Of 1,178 homicide cases filed with the courts from 1986 through 1990, 938 had reached final disposition as of June 30, 1991. Homicide rates in the District of Columbia are examined in terms of illicit drugs, firearm availability, family dysfunction, exposure to violence, media influences, and prevention. An appendix contains tables on national and District of Columbia homicide rates. 26 tables and 7 figures

Date Published: April 1, 1992