The Department of Justice released its report Murder in Families, July, 1994. The study consisted of findings drawn from a representative sample survey of state and county prosecutors' records. The survey covered disposed charges against nearly 10,000 murder defendants accounting for over 8,000 murder victims in 1988. The study's findings are that murder victims usually know their killer and that parents are the leading killers of children.
The study revealed that 16% of murder victims were members of the defendant' s family. 64% were killed by friends or acquaintances while only 20% were killed by strangers. 57% of all murdered children under the age of 12 were killed by their parents. 11 % of all victims over 60 were killed by their children. 45% of family murder victims were female compared to only 18% of non-family murder victims. Among black marital partners women are just as likely to kill their spouse, among whites, women killed their partners only 38% of the time as opposed to the men killing their partner 62% of the time.
It was not surprising that 74% of all murder defendants had a prior criminal record, but 44% of the victims also had a criminal history indicating that perhaps a significant portion of murders involves the "criminal element" settling scores or differences amongst themselves rather than preying on hapless bystanders. An interesting note is that 19% of family murder victims had a criminal record as did 56% of family murder defendants. The survey showed that convicted family murder defendants tended to receive slightly more lenient punishments than did non-family murderers. The study gives extensive details, graphs, charts and other information. It is available free from. BJS Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 179, Dept. BJS236, Annapolis Junction, MD. 20701-0179.
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