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Homicide and Medical Science: Is There a Relationship?

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 49 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2007 Pages: 185-204
Martin A. Andresen
Date Published
April 2007
20 pages
This study examined data on homicides, attempted homicides, and aggravated assaults in Canada and the United States in order to test the hypothesis that advances in medical science had reduced the number of criminal attacks that would have resulted in death (homicide), leading to an increase in cases of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
The study found no support for the argument that increases in the technology and resources of medical science over the past 30 years had decreased crime-related deaths (homicides) when aggravated assaults were distinguished as attempted homicide from the Canadian offense of aggravated assault. One explanation for medical science's lack of impact on the homicide rate is that homicide victims have died or are irreversibly near death when they contact medical services. This is likely to be the case in the United States, where the ownership of automatic handguns is prevalent. Canada does not have a gun culture similar to that in the United States, so the explanation of more lethal instruments for homicide is less compelling. In Canada, it is likely that the effects of advances in medical technology have been relatively evenly distributed across violent crimes. Some medical advances have saved lives; whereas, others have reduced or eliminated the severity of the effects of nonlethal criminal assaults. The Canadian data used in the analysis (homicides, aggravated assaults, attempted murders, and total population) were obtained from Statistics Canada's Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management System. Data on U.S. homicides and aggravated assaults were obtained from the FBI's 2006 Uniform Crime Reports. The total population for the United States was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau 2006. 1 table, 6 figures, 9 notes, and 14 references


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