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Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data

NCJ Number
John K. Roman, Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2013
15 pages
This report examines the impact that race and stand your ground laws have on justifiable homicide rulings.
This study used national data to examine the impact that race and stand your ground laws have on justifiable homicide rulings. The study found that White-on-Black homicides were more likely to be ruled justified (11.4 percent) while Black-on-White homicides were least likely to be ruled justified (1.2 percent). The findings also revealed that for White-on-Black, Black-on-Black, and White-on-White homicides, the presence of a stand your ground law was associated with a statistically significant increase in the likelihood that these homicides would be ruled justified, while the change in likelihood for Black-on-White homicides was not significant. The study also used the attributes from the Trayvon Martin case to determine the effects of race on homicide rulings and found the following attributes - single shooter, single victim, both male, both are strangers, and use of a firearm - contributed significantly to the presence of racial disparities in rulings of justifiable homicide. The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of racial disparities in justifiable homicide rulings and to examine whether stand your ground laws had any impact on these disparities. Data for the study were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigations Supplementary Homicide Report for the period 2005 through 2010. The study sample included only those cases for which information was available for both victim and perpetrator and those cases with a White or Black victim-offender combination. The resulting sample included 53,019 cases. The findings from the study indicate that race plays a significant factor in justifiable homicide rulings, and that this effect increases in States with stand your ground laws. Study limitations are discussed. Figure, tables, notes, and appendix