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Chicago Paper


High crime level is one of the major problems for many countries. This question is especially burning for the overpopulated big cities that can boast of a great national diversity. The USA tries to find the most effective means of crime reduction in its big cities. This paper analyzes the statistical data of Chicago’s (IL) homicides, comparing it with Houston (TX), and states that implementing certain interventions based on criminological theories can help reduce the crime level in the city greatly. 

Chicago and Houston Homicide Statistics

For better understanding of the scale of the homicide issue, it is useful not only to analyze the crime level of some city, but also to compare it with the data of some other city of the same size. Thus, the level of violent crime (homicides) in Chicago fluctuates, starting from 2008 and until 2015. Chicago had the highest crime rate in 2008 (18.5 per 100,000 population), the lowest in 2010 and 2013 (approximately 15.2 per 100,000 population), and then again, it grew in 2015 by 15 % (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015). If compared to Chicago, Houston has lower crime rates in general, but it has also experienced some significant changes in the period of 2008 – 2015. Thus, the homicide level for this city was the lowest in 2011 (9.2) and then it grew a little by 2013 up to 9.8 and stayed the same up to now (“Crime Levels”, 2013). Hence, it is possible to state that the crime level of Chicago as compared to Houston, the city with almost the same amount of population, which is approximately 2.6 million, is higher. Therefore, the changes of crime levels in both cities demonstrate that some measures are taken, but they are not always effective.

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Homicide Victims and Perpetrators

The statistical data on the number of murders is only one of the clues to finding possible solutions of the problem. It is significant to know who the victims and the perpetrators are. According to 2011 Murder Analysis Report, the average age of homicide victims was 28, they were males (90.1% of all homicides) and black (75.3%); what is more important, 76.9% of them had a previous arrest history (The Chicago Police Department, 2011). As for the offenders, the majority of crimes were commuted by one black male offender, age 27, who had previous arrests (The Chicago Police Department, 2011). Therefore, young black male adults are most likely to become the victims of homicides that are committed by the perpetrators with the same characteristics and with a history of arrests.

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Criminological Theories of Homicides

For a long time, police scholars and sociologists have tried to explain the causes of homicide. They have developed a number of theories, and each of them contributes to better understanding of the offender’s personality. The first elaborated theory of a homicide is biological. Some scientists believe that murderers have a certain set of chromosomes or they have had some head trauma in the past, or they even possess specific facial characteristics (Lee & Choi, 2014). The sexual nature of women is believed to force them to be engaged in prostitution and even commit murders. The criticism of this theory lies in the fact that all people are different, and it is impossible to single out some unique approach to determining a criminal. A psychological approach to homicide covers a great number of sub-theories that also try to explain the nature of a perpetrator. The instinct and impulse theory investigates an in-born instinct to protect oneself and commit homicides. The attachment theory sees the causes of homicide in the previous experiences of a person who was abandoned or seriously offended in the childhood. The social learning theory believes in the fact that media affects people and promotes crimes. All these psychological theories seem to contradict one another as the psychologists still argue about whether a person’s inclination to commit homicide is in-born or formed in the course of his life under the influence of some external factors. The last group of sociological theories of homicide has also been vastly applied. The most widespread approaches in it are as follows. The theory of strain exists in society and forces a person to commit crimes (Lee &Choi, 2014). The labelling theory states that a person accepts and bears the label of deviant and can commit crimes (Lee &Choi, 2014). The theory of conflict means that a person is put pressure on by other individuals and social norms (Lee &Choi, 2014). Having such a great number of homicide theories demonstrates that a great work is being done to reveal the main causes of crime.

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A Remedy Plan for Homicides

It is very helpful to have some theoretical base for investigating the causes of homicides, but it is even more important to construct a plan to remedy this problem. Thus, the first stage of this plan will be analyzing the statistical data of homicides and determining the risk groups to be aware of the violent crime situation in the city or in the entire country. The second stage will be creating special working groups, consisting of psychologists, sociologists, and psychiatrists to work with the imprisoned murderers. They will apply different homicide theories to prisoners and, depending on the most probable explanation of a homicide commitment, will use a certain type of treatment. Drug treatment can be quite helpful, but it should be applied only after genetic screening, medical tests, and other examinations. A cognitive-behavioral approach is one of the most effective from a psychological point of view, the same as anger management (Lee & Choi, 2014). However, Lee & Choi (2014) state that besides treating the murderers, it is very important to analyze how the system of justice works with them and what it promotes to avoid receiving some contradictory results.

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