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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136792 Find in a Library
Title: Age of the Victim and the Seriousness of Homicides: Kentucky, 1976-1986
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  Volume:7  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1991)  Pages:257-272
Author(s): T J Keil; G F Vito
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 16
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis examines Kentucky murders between 1976 and 1986 with attention to the seriousness of the homicides and to the manner in which the homicides varied by victims' age.
Abstract: Following Barnett (1985), the study examined the extent to which heinousness was an indicator of the seriousness of a killing. In the Barnett scale, heinousness is measured by a mixture of legally relevant factors, such as the deliberateness of the murder and the presence of more than one victim. In addition, the Barnett scale includes features of the murder that are not defined in Kentucky law as aggravating circumstances in a capital case. The measurement models indicate that the Barnett scale captures a substantively important part of what the Kentucky criminal justice system takes to be a serious killing. In each series, it was among the best indicators of severity. Other objective properties of the killing, especially the presence of a concurrent felony, were also important indicators of the seriousness of a murder. Other factors in seriousness were the victim being a stranger to the offender and the victim being white and the killer black. Findings also show that certain age categories of victims were more likely than others to be involved in "serious" killings. The elderly and juvenile homicide victims composed a relatively small proportion of Kentucky killings; yet, the killings of people in these two age categories were apparently especially heinous, violated the legal codes that would merit capital punishment, involved the killing of strangers, and exhibited the cross-racial pattern likely to raise the ire of the public, prosecutors, and juries. 5 notes and 43 references
Main Term(s): Murder
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Kentucky; Victim profiles
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