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 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. Mr J

    Everyone claims no money no money - but there is money for booze then they get drunk and comit crimes

    September 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JThomas2121

      Exactly. They also claim they're so 'poor' while dragging home their flat screen TVs and jewelry from Wal-Mart. Poverty in America is a joke. Pay no taxes, get everything for free, and spend your free government welfare on junk you don't need. Then complain that you're not getting enough.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • angryblkman

      mr j, is basically correct. only in America do so called 'poor' people have salilite dishes and two cars. all the junk food and booze they can consume. but when their poor choices hold them back, they blame the schools, police, president, politics, race, and anything else they can think of. but never blame themselves.

      in this country you are free to succeed as far as your talents and perseverance take you. but you are also free to fail, and if you do please don't blame anyone but yourself! 🙂

      September 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      You are correct. I don't have a flat screen TV. I have hand me down furniture. I live in a cheap little apartment. I don't have anything that is "nice" or "fancy." I do have a bottle of Johnny Walker on the table and beer in the fridge every night...I will choose alcohol over material wealth any day.

      September 29, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mojo Jojo

    This just in:
    Monkeys arguing over banana resort to throwing their own feces at one another!

    September 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Martin

    Wow, this guy's a genius. Here's a spoiler for you: Booze sales also increase good times and pregnancies. wickedimproper . com

    September 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NicNic

    Like... duhhhhhh. Who didn't know this? Why is this news? Because it's now proven? Like.... duhhhhhh. Who DIDN'T know? Add in drugs too because they can also make people "get the guts" to commit crimes. Alcohol is the worst.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Did you copy/paste the "Like... duhhh" part?

      September 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Meesh (B'ham)

    You could put 20 liquor stores in the town I live in and it wouldn't cause the people in the town to act like that... maybe a few more wrecks but no shootings and beatings and gang violence. Come on?! Really! I agree with @emi and @seth hill.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JamesM

    Genius reporting.. what I find amazing is that CNN pays for this garbage. I bet the next thing this moron will say is that poverty and violent crimes are connected...

    September 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DickR

    Chicken or egg? Which came first: a higher concentration of package stores in poor urban neighborhoods [generally higher crime rates], or more violence concentrated around package stores? Does the study hold true for the 'burbs, wealthy neighborhoods, and rural areas? Mixed drinks on the deck or just a cold 40?

    September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HolyMoly

    And yet the white man is STILL the most dangerous creature on earth.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • angryblkman

      wrong. if you are a young black male, the most dangerous thing is another young black male.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Agreed and if you're a young black male, the most dangerous thing is yourself. If you're a young white male, the most dangerous thing is your parents. When did this become black and white? I guess white people watch too much TV and think inner city means black and the "burbs" is white lol. If every black person committed a crime right now, it still couldn't wipe out how much crime white people have committed and keep comitting. Please just because the mainstream media always only shows black people committing crime doesn't account for snot.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • coder

      religion is the most dangerous thing on the planet – not white men

      i know places in L.A. where they eat white people

      September 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • angryblkman

      blacks make up 13%. so black males are 6.5%. young black males are only 3%. yet this tiny part of our total population is responsible for about half of all violent street crimes. And the communities that suffer mostly are poorer areas with many blacks. as I already said, blacks are our own worst ememy. And with a 72% illegitimacy rate among, a break down of the black family and the uninvolved black father, this will only get worse. We blacks need to stop blaming others!

      We blacks have much room for improvement.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eric

    "To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

    Also, correlation is not equal to causation; the strong availability of single serving beverages would likely be only a market reaction to the needs of the people in the area.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JThomas2121

    One word to describe this article ... and study ... 'Duh.'

    September 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zakk Neumann

    Why did you think that they put liquor stores in every corner on south L.A. and not on the streets of Beverly Hills?

    September 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snow

    Well.. ain't that a surprise now!! (pun)

    September 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HockeyMinny

    ..."Two studies published this month suggest the availability of booze"... I wonder who funded these studies. oh my gosh what a waste

    September 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. browntree

    Wow drinking leads to violence? Who'd have thunk it??

    September 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed, Spring, TX

    I hope that we didn't spend tax payer money on this. What would be next? To study if the sun rises in the east or not?

    September 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
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