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by Peter Moskos

April 29, 2015

Life and Death in Baltimore's Eastern (and Western) District

More than ten percent of black men in Baltimore's Eastern District are murdered! Why is this not known? Why is this not discussed with urgency? Why has this been going on for decades?

This is from my book, Cop in the Hood. I can't find it anywhere online. It should be. I'm still honestly hoping there is some major error in my math. But if there is, nobody has brought it to my attention. This stats comes from 2000-2006. Though it may have changed slightly, I have no reason to think it's changed significantly. And to be clear, the "men" I'm talking about are black men:
The risk of death is astoundingly high. For some of those “in the [drug] game,” the risk of death may be as high as 7 percent annually.* Each year in Baltimore’s Eastern District approximately one in every 160 men aged fifteen to thirty-four is murdered. At this rate, more than 10 percent of men in Baltimore’s Eastern District are murdered before the age of thirty-five.** As shocking as this is, the percentage would be drastically higher if it excluded those who aren’t “in the game” and at risk because of their association with the drug trade. (p. 73)
And here is the fine print, the dirty details, the footnotes from pages 219-220:
* Levitt and Venkatesh (Levitt, Steven D., and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh. 2000. “An Economic Analysis of a Drug- Selling Gang’s Finances.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 115 (3):755–89) show an annual 7 percent death rate for those actively involved in street-level drug dealing. A Baltimore City police officer entering the force in 1982 and retiring in 2007 would have had, roughly, a 0.7 percent chance being killed on duty during those twenty-five years.

** More than 11.6 percent of men in the Eastern District are murdered. This is based on homicide and census data. The 2000 Eastern District population for age 15 to 34 is 5,641 (derived from 2000 block-level U.S. Census data). The official U.S. Census citywide undercount for Baltimore was 1.8 percent. I arbitrarily doubled this figure for the Eastern District. Adding 3.6 percent raises the sample population to 5,844. The Eastern District lost 3 percent of its population annually between 1990 and 2000. Following this trend (it may have even accelerated give the massive expansion of Johns Hopkins Hospital), the 2006 population would be 4,867. I keep the 2000 population figure to be more conservative with my estimation of the homicide rate. Daily migration is not taken into account. I do not think this accounts for a large bias in either direction. All homicide victims in the Eastern District are assumed to reside in the district. Likewise no victims outside the Eastern District are assumed to come from the district. Homicide deaths in the Eastern District between 2000 and 2006 (excluding 2003, when I could not acquire data) are, respectively: 59, 38, 61, 55, 35, and 43. The mean is 48.5 murders per year. The demographic characteristics of homicide victims in the Eastern District are estimated from citywide, African American sex and age data. Of the city’s 179 black homicide victims in 2000 age 15 to 34, 168, or 93.9 percent, were men. 78.9 percent of all black male Baltimore homicide victims are 15 to 34 (FBI UCR 2000 Homicide Supplement). Based on these data, the average annual homicide rate for men 15 to 35 is 615 per 100,000. To put it another way, for these men, the odds of being murdered in a single year are 1 in 163. Based on the survival rate function 1 − (1 − r)^x, (r = death rate and x = number of years), 11.6 percent of men are murdered during a twenty-year period.
Source: Peter Moskos. 2009. Cop in the Hood. Princeton University Press.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Each year in Baltimore’s Eastern District approximately one in every 160 men aged fifteen to thirty-four is murdered."

That's a per capita rate of 625 homicide victims per 100,000 black males (aged 15-34), which is about about 8.5 times the national rate for that black males in that age-range (and about 125 times the national rate for non-hispanic white males in that age-range)*

*CDC homicide victim data indicates a rate of 71.0 per 100k for black males 15-24 and 76.1 for black males 25-34, for the year 2010.
source: Center for Disease Control: "Health, United States, 2013"; Table 34, p. 2 of 4 (scroll down to view non-Hispanic white category).