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Center for Justice Research Releases Collaborative Publication on Violent Crime Drivers in Four High-Crime U.S. Cities

Posted on Friday, December 10, 2021

The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University (TSU) today announced the publication of its most recent research study titled “An Exploratory Study of Environmental Stress in Four High Violent Crime Cities: What Sets Them Apart?” The research report, published in the bi-monthly Crime & Delinquency journal, was conducted in partnership with Stetson University.

The study examines analytical patterns in four U.S. cities - Houston, TX, Baltimore, MD, Jackson, MS, and Wilmington, DE – to understand what economic, health and social factors motivate violent criminal behavior within these select communities. The study was completed through a two-part data analysis methodology. The first analysis reviewed collected city-level data against national rates of social stress indicators. The second analyzed neighborhood-level data to identify the factors are most associated with violent crime.

The results of the study indicate community stress, driven by health and economic factors, is associated with violent crime. The state Area Deprivation Index (ADI), unemployment, median household income, and population density were all factors related to criminal behaviors. From a health and social standpoint, factors such as high STD rates, air pollution, single-parent homes, and insufficient food resources were also discovered as violent crime drivers. Race was found to have no significant effect on crime, and interestingly, there were low suicide rates across all four cities.

dr henderson, center for justice
“Our research findings shed new light on the root causes behind violent crime in these four cities. Rather than looking at racial disparities in a vacuum, this study looks holistically at the surrounding social and economic factors that can propel dangerous behaviors,” said Dr. Howard Henderson, director of the Center for Justice Research. “The considerations uncovered in this study should undoubtedly inform future public policies that aim to reduce crime in these areas.”

About the Center for Justice Research, Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, and Texas Southern University

The Center for Justice Research is committed to creating justice reform-oriented solutions for the reduction of mass incarceration by connecting and applying academic thought to practical challenges. As a university-level research center, the Center for Justice Research provides a culturally responsive approach to mass incarceration and to criminal justice reform. Our targeted research advances data-driven solutions by supporting innovation, collecting committed reformers, compelling policy arguments and engendering broad consensus amongst community stakeholders.

The mission of the Barbara Jordan – Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs is to serve as an urban-focused community of learning dedicated to educating professionals who will plan and administer environmentally healthy and sustainable communities at the local, state, national and international levels of society.

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Last updated: 12/10/2021