Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's Failure Behind High Murder Rate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City's Failure Behind High Murder Rate

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

So, here we are again.

Six years after Jacksonville Community Council Inc. amassed a group of citizens to figure out how to help this city shed the distinction of being Florida's murder capital, we still retain that shameful title.

Last week, the Times-Union reported that Duval County had the highest murder rate per capita among the state's largest counties.

It averaged 4.6 murders per 100,000 residents for the first half of 2012. Slayings increased from 37 in the first six months of 2011 to 40 during the same period in 2012.

That rate surpassed that of Miami-Dade, which came in second at 3.8 murders per 100,000 residents.

On top of that, being tops in murder is a ranking that, except for 2010, Duval County has held for every year since 2000.

And "Welcome to Jacksonville - Murder Capital of Florida" isn't a title that anyone would want to see displayed on a billboard off I-95.

Yet I wonder sometimes.

You'd think that by now after tragedies such as that of 8-year-old DreShawna Davis, who died from a gunshot to the heart in 2006 when two brothers fired shots into her grandmother's home, there would be more urgency toward dealing with the underlying problems behind many of the slayings.

HIGH POVERTY RATES

JCCI's 2006 report, in fact, focused on the structural problems fueling the kind of violence that got DreShawna killed.

Such problems include poverty rates of 25 to 43 percent in urban core neighborhoods.

They include the frustration that comes with being underemployed, unemployed and undereducated. And, in general, a culture that leads some people, especially young black males, to assert themselves violently.

It also noted that interventions, such as after-school programs, family therapy and parent training for delinquent and at-risk pre-adolescents, as well as extra patrols for hot-spot crime areas, had proven to be successful in stemming violent crime. …

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