Why does Louisiana lead the nation in consecutive murders?

Why does Louisiana lead the nation in consecutive murders?


For 31 straight years, Louisiana has reported the nation’s highest murder rate.

To solve that puzzle, first consider a broader pattern in the South: a history of violence that still extends further.

A 1998 New York Times article “An aberration that has been maintained for as long as the record” has been pointed out, including “former slave states of the old Confederacy ranked in the top 20 states for murder, led by Louisiana, 17 per 100,000 People in 1996 with murder rates. “

a study Judicial records from 1800 to 1860 found that murder rates were four times higher in South Carolina than in Massachusetts. More than a century later, in 1996, the ratio was similar. And in 2018, the homicide rate was 7.7 per 100,000 in South Carolina and 2.0 in Massachusetts – again, nearly four times higher.

In the 1800s, there was a tendency in the South to be “more just”, in which people took the law into their own hands, as well as more “respect justice”, in which signs of disrespect could escalate fatal encounters such as the couple.

A common theme between this high rate of white violence and later high rates of black violence in the same region, is a criminal justice system that is seen as antitrust. People do not take part in an arrangement they do not trust, completing a cycle of vengeance outside the law. Jill Levy’s Book “Ghetto” Black Americans are described as under-policed ​​(not enough effort to solve the killings) and over-policed ​​(for minor violations).

The offenders took careful consideration in terms of work-cause. For example, there is no consensus on the main reason for the significant decline in crime in the United States in the last three decades. And there is no consensus as to what is the reason for the large national increase in murders this year.

Several factors may help explain Louisiana’s reluctant rankings, including racial segregation, job discrimination, and poverty. But the surrounding states also have these problems. So what can make Louisiana different?

New Orleans has the nation’s highest murder rate for any major city since 1993, with 424 murders in 1994 at the height of the city’s bloodshed. The city’s murder rate that year was 86 murders per 100,000 residents, the worst reported by a large US city.

But even though New Orleans was dropped from the Louisiana count, the state would have recorded the nation’s highest or second-highest homicide rate in 12 of the last 15 years.

New Orleans reported the lowest number of murders of any year since 2019 in 1971, but the murder rate has slowly decreased in other parts of the state. The state capital Baton Rouge recorded its worst three-year stretch on record between 2017 and 2019, and combined metropolitan philanthropies (such as Jefferson, East Baton Rouge, and St. Tammany) saw more murders in New Orleans for the first time in 2019. Reported. Time on record.

“It is poverty and its twin sister or brother of mass oppression”, said Mark Morial, who served as mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002 and is now president of the National Urban League. “And it’s easy access to the gun.”

Louisiana and Mississippi are among the poorest states in the country. Louisiana has ranked in the bottom five in poverty rates in 37 of the last 40 years, including 19 times from last or second in that period. According to Mississippi only, in 2019 it had a greater proportion of its population below the poverty line Census estimates.

However, there is no clearly established causal link between poverty rates and homicide rates. Things like high unemployment and poor education factor in the state’s poverty rate, which in turn can contribute to the high rate of homicide in Louisiana.

(Mississippi may now have more murders per capita than Louisiana. It is the only state where individual agencies, not the state itself) Presented FBI Mississippi straight data had the nation’s second-highest homicide rate in 2019, but only 29 percent of Mississippi agencies represent 54 percent of the state’s population.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Louisiana also has the highest or second-highest growth rate in the past 19 years.

One Article In 2012, the Times-Picayune called Louisiana the “prison capital of the world” and reported that “more than half of the state’s prisoners are run by sheriffs in local jails, and the state’s correctional system gave financial incentives to those lions “Keep the jails full.”

Took on reducing the state’s encroachment rate through Louisiana Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reforms Bill in 2017. This effort probably contributes to the state’s disorganization rate, with a 20.7% drop between 2012 and 2019, while a 12.7 percent drop nationally, although the state still had the nation’s highest growth rate in 2019.

“When you expose people to violent environments, and on a per capita basis, the most violent environment in America is prison / jail, then it is much more likely that they are taking up violent practices to survive,” Flisel Said Daniel, chief executive of the Foundation for Louisiana, which was the state’s appointment of governor for 2017 Justice Reinvestment Task Force. “The argument that public safety and reduction in violence is somehow linked to public rituals is flat. If that were the case, we would have been the safest place in the world. “

Then there are guns.

A larger proportion of murders committed through gunfire in Louisiana than the national average have been committed each year since at least 1985, with the national average being the weapon used in 84 percent of murders in Louisiana in 2019 (nationally Compared to 74 percent). Louisiana has the highest rate of firearms recovered and detected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), suggesting a high rate of illegal or stolen weapons in the state.

“Illegal or stolen weapons, an illegal system in arms trafficking, plus drugs and narcotics, produce this deadly mix,” said Mr. Morial, who in an effort to address gun violence by the state government Of lack. “Look at the legislature to see how many criminal laws have been attempted to address the homeless. The state’s response is more than finding out what drives it. “

One state had a reasonably strong correlation between the seizure and detection of guns in 2019 and the murder rate of that state, although the detected firearms were not “representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals.” is, ATF.

Does Louisiana’s history of violence and corruption really differ from other states?

Researchers Is noted The slaves who worked on the sugar plantations of Louisiana worked under more barbaric conditions (With high mortality) Than those working in cotton fields in the south.

“Even before the war, Louisiana was notorious for its frequent fights, street fights, devotions, whiskey disputes, vigilance committees and outbreaks of violence,” historian Gilles Vandle wrote.

The post-Reconstruction civil war period was particularly brutal. Historian Eric Fonner has described Massacre Colefax, La. , Is the worst example of racial violence during the Reconstruction in 1873, in which there were more than 150 black people.

Two years ago, the mayor of New Orleans Officially apologized 11 of 1891 for lynching Italian-American – One of the largest mass lynchings in American history. (The Lynch mob was not convicted after the city’s police chief was killed.)

Author AJ Lubling said In 1960, Louisiana’s hot-tempered political factions were matched only by Lebanon. Louisiana was home to populists Huey Long (agreed Leader of devils He was assassinated in 1935, by many); David Duke, who ran for governor in 1991 after being leader of the Ku Klux Klan; Edwin Edwards, Joe Won that race Against Mr. Duke, despite a reputation for corruption (“Vote for the rogue. It’s important.”) Was a popular bumper sticker Supporting Mr. Edwards, who served four terms as governor and also served a federal prison sentence on racketeering charges.)

Denise Rousey Book, “Policing the Southern City: New Orleans, 1805-1889,” he wrote that New Orleans’ murder rate was about 10 times that of Philadelphia from 1857 to 1859, and that only a fifth New Orleans murderer was convicted. Because witnesses and possible gamblers were too scared to participate.

Samuel Hyde Jr. 1998 Book “Pistols and Politics” Feudal Related Anarchy in Louisiana Florida Remuneration Hatfields and McCoys were held to shame from 1810 to 1935 (parganas include East Baton Rouge and St. Tammany). In an interview, he said that the region had the country’s highest rural homicide rate and no strong governing authority, “because a level of despair among people could not get justice through the courts.”

“People are proud of the antics of their fathers and grandfathers, who move from one generation to the next,” said Mr. Hyde, a history professor at the University of Southeastern Louisiana.

There was an honor code of “protecting your honor” and “he has it coming”, adding, “It is possible to risk your life by insulting the LSU Tigers.”

“I was more worried about it when I wrote the book,” he said. “People are armed with teeth.”

It is unclear if Louisiana’s highest homicide rate as the official streak will continue in its 32nd year – the official FBI tally will be released in September. But once the pattern is established, they find it difficult to break.


Jeff Ascher and Benjamin Horwitz are crime analysts based in New Orleans and co-founders of AH Datalytics. You can follow them on twitter @Crimealytics And @ IT4Policy.