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NCJ Number: 194270 Find in a Library
Title: Mobilizing Law in Urban Areas: The Social Structure of Homicide Clearance Rates
Journal: Law & Society Review  Volume:35  Issue:2  Dated:2001  Pages:435-466
Author(s): Marian J. Borg; Karen F. Parker
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 32
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This research explored the utility of Donald Black's theory of law (1976) for explaining differences in homicide clearance rates across large cities in the United States.
Abstract: In "The Behavior of Law,” Black defines law as "governmental social control," including activities that involve mobilizing the criminal justice system. Black proposes that law varies in response to five aspects of social life: stratification, morphology, culture, organization, and alternative social control. In particular, Black argues that the social structure of a case explains the quantity and style of social control that will ensue. This social structure includes the characteristics of each party in a conflict, their relationship to one another, and the large context in which they interact. Black identifies five status dimensions analogous to the five proposed in his earlier work, that together define these characteristics, relationships, and ties: the vertical (economic); horizontal (morphology, integration, and intimacy); cultural; organization; and normative (alternative social control). Using insights from the social disorganization literature, the authors of the current study developed and evaluated hypotheses regarding homicide clearance rates and aggregate measures of stratification, morphology, culture, organization, and alternative social control. The findings support the argument that the rate of clearing homicide cases varies according to the social characteristics of the location where they occurred. In particular, clearance rates were highest in cities marked by greater racial disparities in education, income, employment, and residence; greater residential stability; higher levels of educational attainment; higher expenditures for educational programs; and lower rates of homicide. This article discusses the implications of this analysis for both the social disorganization literature and Black's theory, and suggestions are offered for further inquiry into the relationship between structural conditions in urban areas and homicide clearance rates. 96 references
Main Term(s): Police effectiveness
Index Term(s): Clearance rates; Economic influences; Homicide; Homicide investigations; Homicide victims; Social conditions; Urban area studies
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