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. Bills Cat

    Hey, we didn't need a study to reach this conclusion, honest. Ever since the first few people drank fermented fruit juice and started whopping each other on the heads, this has been a pretty well-known concept. And how much government funding paid for this earth-shaking revelation?

    September 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat2u.

    A link between booze and violence ? This just can't be true. Who has ever heard of someone who's been drinking become violent ? I think they need to rehash this study.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. saywhat

    No surprises here. Booze is also the single factor in majority of lives lost on roads.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joel

    I think their is a much higher link between blacks and inner city violence.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • DickR

      What else ya got in that box of stereotypes? Wanna go for Asians and good math test scores while you're at it there, joel? Hispanics and lawn care?

      September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      I find there is an ironclad links between posters being names joel, and those posters being mega D-Bags. What say you?

      September 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Is this study really telling us anything we didn't know?
    I think it's the single-servings that they are focusing on...more easily hidden and portable.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    All you need for tenure at UC Riverside is to grow a Dumbledore beard and state the bloody obvious. I'm there. Just give me a few months for the beard.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sounds like U.S.military contractors

    States "rights" > is a state or a corporation a "citizen" or is it the biggest trogan horse of democracy of all time?

    Maybe the entire world sholud follow this model: suddenly there are thousands of countries.... imagine the effiiciency
    of all of that.

    No chance of the proclaimed "tyranny" : just a few more hundred countries every single day.

    We could all open a flag business selling flags: problem soved.

    Everyone likes to COPY the "winners"....

    September 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chemicalbank

    This is tripe. They can not conclude that alcohol sales "contribute significantly" or "had a modest impact" on crime, only that there is a correlation. It could be that criminals drink more, or buy more single servings. I wonder how much grant money this rocket science consumed.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Coming next year – a study that shows a link between alcohol consumption and guys picking up ugly chicks.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Allen

    It also means that they can take all the police who are dedicated to this stupid "Drug War," and have them do real police work. Try to get help if your house was robbed... nada. Meanwhile, 12 cops are spending all night setting up fake drug sales, resulting in arresting some crack-head over an attempted $40 drug purchase (as seen on Cops!)

    "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."

    September 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. forest gump

    legalize mj. Economy fixed and alot of people happier the end.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gung hoe

    Not me by gollie i was a lovin drunk Anybody hear about that drunk mail man yesterday

    September 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gung hoe

    If this study is trying to linl violent crime to alcoholism, they're quite wrong. One needs to look back on the prohibition years to know that then violent crime went up despite the ban on alcohol production and sales.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • gung hoe

      Sorry folks about the missprint above. I meant to print "link", not "linl". By the way, the post above mine was done by my impostor as he always tries to be funny.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trent

    Booze is linked to violence?! Who knew...

    September 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Santa

    HO HO HO

    September 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
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