Cluster Analysis of Murder/Nonnegligent Manslaughter Characteristics

Cynthia Barnett, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Within the realm of criminal justice, there is probably no offense type that is as studied as that of murder or nonnegligent homicide. No other offense is treated more seriously in terms of the allocation of law enforcement resources and adjudication as well. A great deal has been written concerning the decrease in the murder rate experienced by the nation since 1993. However, within those treatments of homicide information by researchers, the media, and criminal justice professionals, very little attention has been focused on possible differences in regional levels and trends in the nature of those same homicides.

The objective of this poster is to present a viable typology of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter based upon incident-level characteristics collected by the Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The SHR for 2000 contains incident, victim, and offender level information on 12,991 murder and nonnegligent manslaughters about which the FBI received information. Any similarities among these incidents can be discerned by using a statistical technique called cluster analysis. These "clusters" would lend themselves to the development of a classification of murder incidents. By using a reliable typology, further analysis could be done to explore differences in regions that go beneath the surface of the simple murder rate.

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Updated 05/20/2006