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Assessing the Interaction Between Offender and Victim Criminal Lifestyles & Homicide Type

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 39 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2011 Pages: 367-377
Jesinia M. Pizarro; Kristen M. Zgoba; Wesley G. Jennings
Date Published
11 pages
This study of homicide incidents in Newark, NJ, examined the lifestyle characteristics of homicide victims and offenders, whether there are different types of homicide actors (victims or offenders) based on their criminal lifestyles, and whether different types of homicide actors (victim and/or offender) influence the features of homicide incidents.
Study findings show that criminal lifestyles are common among both homicide victims and offenders. At least 75 percent of the victims and 87 percent of the offenders engaged in some type of criminal/deviant lifestyle. The analyses did not find much variation among the lifestyles of homicide victims and offenders in Newark; however, there were two types of homicide victims and offenders. One group of victims and offenders were apparently less involved in the criminal world, and the other group was heavily involved in the criminal world. Still, this small variation between homicide victims and offenders did influence homicide type; for example, the combination of the most criminally involved victims and offenders was more likely to lead to gang-related and drug-related homicides, and the more criminally involved youth were more likely to kill the less criminally involved victims in escalating dispute/revenge-related homicide incidents. In addition, the less criminally involved offenders and victims were more likely to be involved in domestic-related murders. Based on these findings, practitioners and scholars should tailor interventions to focus on the overall population of victims and offenders who tend to be involved in criminal lifestyles to various degrees. Study data were obtained on 513 homicides from the investigation files of the homicide unit of the Newark Police Department. Data addressed the details of homicide incidents (i.e., motive, time of day, weapon used, and mode), as well as demographic information, gang affiliation, and drug dealing by the offender and by the victim. 4 tables, 7 notes, 58 references, and appended data collection protocol