Indiana has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the country, according to a study conducted by the national nonprofit Violence Policy Center.
The study uses FBI homicide data to rank states according to their black homicide victimization rates. According to the study, there were 213 black homicide victims in Indiana in 2013, or 34.15 victims per 100,000 people.
That is double the national black homicide victimization rate and eight times the overall homicide rate nationwide, according to the center. Last year, the study found Indianapolis had the sixth-highest rate of black homicide victims in the country based on 2012 data.
The states with the second and third highest rates were Missouri and Michigan, respectively.
“In America, black men and women face a disproportionate risk of being murdered, a fact both alarming and unacceptable,” said Josh Sugarmann, the executive director of the Violence Policy Center, in a statement.
“Moreover, our study found that the vast majority of these homicides are committed with guns, usually a handgun. We hope our research will not only help educate the public and policymakers, but aid those national, state, and community leaders who are already working to end this grave injustice.”
The Violence Policy Center says it advocates for gun control, adding that it approaches violence as a “public health epidemic.”
Paul Helmke, director of the Civic Leaders Center at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, called the study “something that as a state we should be embarrassed by.”
“Generally, I think it shows that we probably have too many gangs and too many drugs and too many guns in this state,” Helmke said.
The study found that of the cases where a weapon could be identified, 90 percent of victims were shot and killed with a gun.
Helmke, the former president and CEO of the Brady Center and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said weak gun laws might have an impact on such numbers.
“We make it very easy for people to get guns,” Helmke said. “And that means that when there’s a domestic violence dispute, the guns are handy. When there’s a gang dispute, the guns are handy.”
In Indianapolis, the majority of homicide victims over the past several years have been black. The city also has struggled with a rising homicide rate since 2013. Last year, there were 144 such killings in the city, the most in its history.
A recent IndyStar analysis of homicide data also found Indianapolis struggles to solve killings involving black victims. That analysis showed that since 2011 there has been a significant gap between solve rates for black and white homicide victims.
Police, community leaders and criminal justice experts attribute the disparity to a number of problems, including witnesses who are reluctant to talk to police and mistrust of law enforcement in predominantly minority communities.
SOURCE: The Indianapolis Star – Jill Disis