Juvenile Homicides: A Social Disorganization Perspective

Juvenile Homicides: A Social Disorganization Perspective

Juvenile Homicides: A Social Disorganization Perspective

Juvenile Homicides: A Social Disorganization Perspective

Excerpt

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows that juvenile homicide rates have fallen significantly over the recent years. Nonetheless, shocking cases of young killers regularly infiltrate the public’s consciousness via highly publicized cases of young killers. Homicides in general, of course, are of an immense source of concern and devastation, but when the offender is a young person, the apprehension and disbelief seems at times exponential. Frankly put, these violent killings may often simply seem incomprehensible. The nature of the proper response to these young killers is also a great source of debate. As a reaction to rising crime rates during the 1980s, the approach to dealing with violent, serious offenders became increasingly punitive. As a shifting trend, in 2005 in Roper v. Simmons the Supreme Court determined that anyone who killed while under the age of 18 could not receive death penalty. More recently, in 2010 in Graham v. Florida the court held that juveniles could not be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses. While the sole purpose of the book is not to analyze the legal justice system response to young killers, the waxing and waning legal response to violent young offenders certainly underscore the importance of conducting empirical research on the phenomenon.

Much of scholarly research on youth killers has been based on small case studies and focused mainly on males (Heide, 2003). This book is about young killers with the focus on structural correlates of homicide with an emphasis on patterns by race/ethnicity and gender. One important clarification related to age bears mention here. This book focuses on offenders 19 years of age and under. The palpable reason for this is the fact that for the purposes of confidentiality, the age of the offenders in the dataset used in this book, Homicides in Chicago, was coded into categories, thereby limiting the opportunity to . . .

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