The Epidemic of Black Homicide Victimization
The devastation homicide inflicts on Black teens and adults is an ongoing national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.
This study examines the issue of Black homicide victimization at the state level by analyzing unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data for Black homicide victimization submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).1 The information used for this report is for the year 2020 and is the most recent data available. This is the first analysis of the 2020 data on Black homicide victims to offer breakdowns of cases in the 10 states with the highest Black homicide victimization rates and the first to rank the states by the rate of Black homicide victims.
It is important to note that the SHR data used in this report comes from law enforcement reporting at the local level. While there are coding guidelines followed by the law enforcement agencies, the amount of information submitted to the SHR system, and the interpretation of how to categorize information submitted (for example, gang involvement), will vary from agency to agency. While this study utilizes the best and most recent data available, it is limited by the quantity and degree of detail in the information submitted.2
The FBI has made changes in the way it collects and reports crime data that in the short term will drastically reduce the availability of state and local data and deprive researchers access to detailed information that can help prevent gun violence and other crime. In 2021 the FBI stopped collecting detailed crime data from police agencies that are not ready to participate in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), an updated and expanded version of the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) system. While full implementation of NIBRS would be an improvement on the current UCR system, as of June 2022 only 66 percent of the U.S. population were covered by NIBRS-reporting law enforcement agencies.3 Instead of allowing local agencies who missed the deadline to continue to report crime data via the UCR, the FBI has partnered with the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to create national estimates to account for the missing information. For the immediate future these changes will severely hobble ongoing efforts, like this VPC series of studies, to understand and prevent gun violence, domestic violence, homicide, and, in fact, all types of violent crime.
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- The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program collects basic information on serious crimes from participating police agencies and records supplementary information about the circumstances of homicides in its unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). Submitted monthly, supplementary data consists of: the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of both victims and offenders; the types of weapons used; the relationship of victims to offenders; and, the circumstances of the homicides. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, supplementary data are provided on only a subset of homicide cases. Additionally, SHR data are updated throughout the year as homicide reports are forwarded by state UCR programs.
- In 2020, as in years past, the state of Florida did not submit any data to the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report. Also in 2020, data from Alabama was not available from the FBI. Data from Florida and Alabama were not requested individually because the difference in collection techniques would create a bias in the study results.
- “Measuring Crime Reported to Law Enforcement using NIBRS Data,” https://bjs.ojp.gov/national-incident-based-reporting-system-nibrs#measuring-crimereported-to-law-enforcement-using-nibrs-data.