Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence
Sociology professor Robert Parker says two University of California, Riverside studies link alcohol sales and violent crime.
September 28th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence

Two studies published this month suggest the availability of booze and in one city, single servings of alcohol is linked to violent crime rates.

University of California, Riverside researchers used federal crime data for offenders between the ages of 13 and 24, and then used census and economic data to determine the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 major cities.

"Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates," said a news release from the university.

The second study isn't so broad and doesn't deal solely with young people. It looked at San Bernardino, California, and "generally found higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods around alcohol outlets that allot more than 10% of cooler space for single-serve containers."

Using census and business data combined with crime reports and an estimate of cooler space devoted to single-serving containers of alcohol (the latter being conducted by the county Department of Public Health), the researchers found that sales of individual servings of booze had a "modest" impact on violent crime.

"However, the researchers did find that as the percentage of cooler space devoted to single-serve containers increased, so did the crime rate," according to a news release.

The news release about both studies was forwarded to CNN.com Tuesday after a piece was published on the site about "violence interrupters" being employed in cities such as Chicago and Baltimore, which are among the 91 cities cited in the first UC-Riverside study.

A University of Chicago study published in 2009 offered some unsurprising findings about the victims and perpetrators of Chicago’s gun violence. They’re often gang-affiliated minorities from low-income families. What may be more surprising is that it cited alcohol not substance  abuse, depression, anxiety and poor grades in school as other contributing factors.

The emphasis on alcohol over substance abuse is notable because so much violence is linked to the illegal drug trade.

But the study said "analysis of data on Chicago homicides from the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System found that only 3% of victims ages 10 to 24 tested positive for recent cocaine or opiate use. In contrast, 35% of homicide victims had alcohol in their blood at the time of death, often at levels above legal thresholds defined for alcohol intoxication."

Again, that is the victims, not the perpetrators. You can read the whole report here in PDF format.

The UC-Riverside studies appeared in Drug and Alcohol Review, a publication from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs.

One of the researchers, sociology professor Robert Parker, who co-directs the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies, said of the findings, "These results suggest that alcohol control can be an important tool in violence prevention."

Parker was more emphatic about the San Bernardino study. Acknowledging that the research had a limited scope, Parker said communities concerned about the impact of selling single servings of alcohol should take action.

"Community interests should dictate local policy, and the potential benefits of reduced violence outweigh any potential harm that the banning or limitation of such sales would create," he said.

What's your take? Is alcohol a devil water spurring our cities to violence? Is it not a factor? Or do you think it's one of many factors contributing to the bloodshed? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Drugs • Illinois • Maryland • U.S.
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. nick

    no on 1183

    September 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Talgrath

      The alcohol they specifically cited in the article are "single serving drinks" which is to say, malt liquor and beer; things already available at your local gas station in Washington. Prop 1183 doesn't increase the number of people selling alcohol, it just allows retail stores to sell liquor instead of putting it in the hands of the state; it also puts more money into enforcement of liquor laws and alcohol abuse.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Thoes studies are whitewash as is the article, attempting to hide the real problem.

      corrupt government = booze = violence

      September 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yvonne

    This is news? I could have told them for free

    September 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Yea, people like you know everything but comprehend nothing.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    Why did they take a picture of Father time and the Flash?

    September 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Thats the corrupt political Santa Clause poster child. The exception to the enforcement of existing laws for you .

      September 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Talgrath

    The problem with these studies is they miss the causes of both phenomenons, poverty. While it is not universal, generally people who are poor actually drink more because it's just about the only "fun" they can afford; of course this pushes them even further into poverty, particularly if it becomes an addiction. Remember, they said they tried to factor out poverty, but they are also relying on official poverty numbers for that and not how poor people in the area are in general, just not the number below the poverty line.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Poverty, Due to a corrupt Bar and IT's Corrupt Judiciary .

      September 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Zee

    Community interests should dictate local policy, and the potential benefits of reduced violence outweigh any potential harm that the banning or limitation of such sales would create," he said

    Really? I disagree with him. We've been down the prohibition road before and it was an epic fail. Even if you banned alcohol altogether in these areas, it wouldn't stop people from getting it, and it would create another black market rife with warfare. At what point do we come to the conclusion that people have to make their own choices?

    You can have my booze when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      You're tripping . Nobody wants to drink with you.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    So beer balls are real. What did we pay for this?

    September 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. humberto

    Holder still didn't enforce a out of state arrest order still maliciously denied enforcement to protect the illegal careers of high ranking public officials such as Christie, that includes kidnapping a child of tender years.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. L92-397

    I don't drink at all and it is almost always intolerable to be around those that do but I understand that many people drink for personal reasons that go beyond that of the environmental social factors which many people do and alcoholics do this in order to make their world a much more tolerable place. It is therefore terribly short-sighted (and hence misleading) to simply suggest that the availability of something is what equates to violence or crime, or terrorism or whatever. There are historical accounts during prohibition which indicate and claim that outlawing booze atually increased domestic violence, especially among children, although who can say what is ultimately true in regards to such political history without a very in-depth examination, since to the victor go the spoils.

    By the same token of faulty logic one could could determine that the active participants of counter cultural movements in North and South America are a result of Cannabis brings it out. Oh right. It's illegal. In that case perhaps the counter culture is by it's own nature, criminal.

    This is just bad logic. The news is so ignorant that I think a person is wiser being 'ignorant' of everything going on in the world. Oh yeah, I am a Muslim, so you know what that means... ;D

    September 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Guns don't kill people, People kill People.

      September 30, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
    • BHNATIVE

      Research has proven that abuse of alcohol leads to addiction, increase not only crime, but domestic violance, school drop out, failing grades, auto accidents death due to alcohol drinking. Also, consideration of Latinos and American Natives tend to have a less tolerance to controling their drinking. The number of establishments advertising liquor has much to do with the increase of excessive drinking, and increase of young adults drinking at an early age of fourteen years of age or younger.. Alcohol is not bad if not abused and and pushed on to young adults, or younger than 24 yrs of age. California needs to abide by their own rules, ABC continues to approve an excessive amount of licenses within a census track, allowing politician to make a decision when receiving contributions from the applicant of liquor licenses.

      October 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. unbiased

    To me this seems like a wasted study. With alcohol comes violence and I could have told them that for free.

    October 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Emre

    Mixing different types of hcaolol makes a hangover worse, this is just a myth. On the other hand, liqueurs people act differently, so if you do not know what works for you, and you like to drink different things you can get into trouble. Scotch puts me to waste a drink. I know one person who can not take place the vodka at all, and another man who will have the worst hangover when he touched a drop of tequila. A hangover is actually mild dehydration. Alcohol makes you pee a lot, and the water leaves the body. The best way to prevent a hangover is to drink water. I try a glass of water for every drink I have after the second or third. I've never had a hangover worse than a mild headache and a feeling woozy.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
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