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. Ghulam Sakhi

    This is why Muslims don't drink.

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

      Organized religion was designed by old world leaders as a means to more easily control the masses. You can kill a king but not a God...get it? Egyptians went even further and became the gods...then there's the pope. (another story altogther)
      2000+ years ago.... lol... today... lack of education led/ leads to religious non-sense, war and violence.
      Any human adult who still keeps imaginary friends, should also seek, higher education and a serious mental evaluation.
      Last time I said someone was talking to me in my head.... they medicated me. and tried to put me on a funny farm. Never Again... i keep those voices to myself now.
      Yoda is more believable than any of your kooky desert gods... that goes for Christians too... lunatics.
      Religion should be kept to ones self. And certainly has NO place in politics.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • nick rymond

      AMAZING ISNT IT???DRUNK DRIVING IS NON-EXISTANT IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES. OVER 155,000 PEOPLE DIE EVERY YEAR IN AMERICA EITHER BY DRUNK DRIVING OR DISEASE CAUSED BY ALCOHOL. ALMOST 65% OF ALL CRIMES INVOLVES ALCOHOL. WAY TO GO AMERICA !!!

      September 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      I thought Muslims didn't drink because they were brainwashed morons.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nick rymond

    GUESS WHAT??? NOTHING IS GONNA CHANGE. DEMOCRATS ARE JUST GONNA SAY " THESE POOR PEOPLE HAVE NO WAY OUT, THEY NEED MORE HELP GIVE TO THEM.MORE MORE.MORE" AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE GONNA SAY "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GIVE TO THE POOR, KEEP SELLING ALCOHOL THOUGH CAUSE WE ARE BEER BLOODED AMERICANS WITH OUR GUNS"

    September 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shyster

    Duh! I hypothesize that it's inked to most other violence, too. Where's my grant money?

    September 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      Prove it using statistics and you probably can get some money.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BethTX

      Plus, the inner citiies are populated by animals with poor impulse control, anyway. Add booze to the mix and you have a winning combo.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KSPete

    Wait, crime and substance abuse are linked? Next they'll be telling me that heat makes ice melt. Thanks for being on the cutting edge, CNN!

    September 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clicky

      CNN didn't do the study, they reported on it. I was confused, too... until I read the article.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. john

    hey jim p. ur rite violent minded people will usually be violent with or without alcohol but ive seen plenty of people who are not violent minded and after getting drunk become very violent.you cant deny that alcohol changes some people into totally different people that they couldnt be without alcohol.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mule46

    Another excuse for inner city thugs. At least four thugs fired at a public housing picnic in a public park in my city this past weekend. Eight were injured including children, but miraculously no injuries were life threatening. Two of the four already had murder charges pending against them. One of the two had a 14 year old sister killed by gunfire this last June. This had to do with a dispute these four had with some residents of the project. I don't think they had to take a drink or drinks to do this.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clarke

    OMG< duh! where have you been. Not just inner city either.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shyster

    Congratulations CNN. This article set a record for the number of comments using the term "duh."

    September 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. julnor

    Correlation does not mean causation. Most likely the same people who are commiting the crimes are good alcohol customers and businesses go where the customers are.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Herne

    And yet pot is still illegal....we need some serious changes in our laws, the general public needs re-education-ed.The lie filled propaganda may have worked in 1937. but those twisted ideals need to go the way of the do-do, as well as many of our corrupted politicians.
    Marijuana legalization would lead to less violence.
    Between the physical aspects to job creation. Prohibition MUST end. Regulation and substance control management.
    Less jails and more concentration on mental illness, will result in less violent offenders returning to our streets.
    Telling China and the Middle East to screw off sounds like a good idea to me too.
    new (renewable)oil/fuel, superior building and clothing goods...George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Henry Ford were not dumb people.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Herne

    You want Charles Manson or Willie Nelson as a neighbor? I'll take Willie thank-you.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin

    It's not the liquor stores themselves, it's the people that demand there be liquor stores. It's the culture in those areas. Kids are then left to fend for their own in that culture (because their parents don't care/monitor) and they end up a statistic, just like those all around those areas.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DIANA

    Bring back Prohibition! – Sarcaism.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. fernace

    Studies show that studies are a handy way for schools to get grants, by taking commonly known issues & repackaging them as "studies" If I've seen 1 of these so called studies, I've seen 100! A better study would be "How do they get away passing off common knowledge as a 'new'study?" At least then we'd get our $$ worth!!

    September 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bukoo

    REALLY....? I'd like to know the brilliant mind that came to that conclusion. He or she must be from Harvard. MIX THE ALCOHOL WITH GUNS AND.... It's Called: MASS GENOCIDE OF INNER CITY DWELLERS. The powers that be get the ball rolling and add these things to the equation and in the end all those who are not educated enough to see what the master plan is will die and only the strong will survive. This is no new thing this is old stuff and after all these years it's still working for the opposition like a charm. WAKE UP PEOPLE, DON'T BE DECEIVED, IT"S GETTING LATE!

    September 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
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