Homicide Rates in the United States, and the Implemented Policy
How homicide is incongruent with social work values/ethics
Homicide rates in the United States are reported to have been high since 1980. There has been a
slight decline since the year 2000. However, about sixteen thousand homicides are reported to have
occurred in the United States in 2013(Sipsma et al., 2017). Some recent studies show that the United States
homicide rate is 25 times that of its peer nations. As a result of this homicide concern, a social work
perspective on identifying, preventing, and addressing this issue is greatly important. The social work
values framework applies a violence prevention approach through using multidisciplinary data to handle
this concern. Moreover, social work provides for recognizing the risks, and developing protective factors
and preventive strategies.
A recent study, and from Federal Bureau of Investigation data, illustrate that a higher rate of
homicide nationwide has been recorded over the past three decades. In 2015, approximately thirty-six
thousand people were reported to have died due to this homicide rate; this is about seventeen percent of all
injury-related deaths recorded in that same year. Although the homicide rates are high in the United States,
about two-thirds of these cases are estimated to be victims of firearm violence; therefore, this has created
an abiding concern on gun violence. Nonetheless, as a result of research findings, the government greatly
assisted the poor as this proved to reduce the homicide rates significantly. Much of these researches were
conducted more than twenty-five years ago. However, given the current homicide rates showing different
patterns since 1990, this prompts additional efforts to deal with the homicide rates.
How Victims of homicide changed over time
Some studies show that homicide mainly affects young adults aged between 15 to 24 years. These
individuals are primarily male and non-Hispanic black individuals. Moreover, the communities with high
minority, with the excellent unemployment rate and poverty, show a tendency of these high homicide
rates. Over the years, lower social capital levels and increased income inequality have been recognized as
the leading cause of increased violence.
It is evident that in 1995, the Office of Justice Programs funded a comprehensive homicide
initiative. The strategy applied in this initiative was to reduce the homicide rate in local communities
(Finucane, 2018). The policy of the comprehensive homicide initiative was designed to be executed in
two-phase. The first phase is planning, which dealt with developing a process that examines the local
homicide-related problems. The outcome of this phase was to develop a multifaceted strategy that would
address the local homicide problem. The second phase is an implementation, which was first crafted and
set in Richmond, California.
The Comprehensive Homicide Initiative is a combination of federal, local, and state statutes. Most
importantly, it represents a restrictive state-level statute on firearms, for example, a strong background
check and bans on some of the military assault weapons. In addition, this legislature is associated more
with creating less firearm-related violence. However, the strategy developed in the Comprehensive
Homicide Initiative forges community-based non-enforcement and enforcement strategies.
The initiative is grouped into two broad categories, and the first category is community-based non-
enforcement strategies. This category is defined for the collaboration with the community. Moreover, the
Housing Authority was also involved as a part of the planning process of crime-reduction. This category
also provided for the establishment of computer centers in forging job skills training. In addition, it is
defined as the collaboration of the juvenile justice system. The aim was to develop a youth court.
The second category is investigative and enforcement strategies based on making homicide
prevention efforts more effective. The first step defined in this category was developing intensified team
approach in obtaining information. This information would be on the high-profile homicides (Fyfe et al.,
1997). The second step is FBI assistance on the old and unsolved homicide review. The third step defined
obtaining the Drug Enforcement Administration support, and lastly, the fourth step was improving the
technology and information sharing.
The state government first implemented the Comprehensive Homicide Initiative in the late 1980s
and early 1990s. Richmond was the first large city to experience its implementation; this resulted in
Richmond suffering economic difficulties and a rise in drug-related violence; this was a standard issue to
most urban jurisdictions during that period.
The initiative gained support and cooperation efforts from the Richmond Police department—
Richmond was the first city to implement the initiative. The cooperation of the police task force created a
protocol for battered women and domestic violence. The members of this partnership implemented
strategies that interrupted gun trafficking. The traditional reasoning on homicide created for the little
efforts that the police could make to combat homicide. This traditional reasoning provided that crime was
immune from the suppression efforts of the police. Hence, this resulted in opposition from some of the
The most significant change to the Comprehensive Homicide Initiative was on the perception of
Homicide; this meant that the initiative enhanced the perception of homicide as part of a more significant
and more general issue of violence (Messner, 1982). Therefore, the initiative recognized the police and
other stakeholders how they viewed this problem was narrow. Broadening the conceptualization of this
issue influenced the recommendation developed to address this issue. Homicide was separated from other
serious but nonfatal assaults. Therefore, the view of homicide as part of a much general violence issue
created clarity to this issue, impeding an effective homicide strategy.
The initiative may lead to the clients being concerned with the gun safety issue. Therefore, social
workers should address safe storage practices to prevent accidental injury. An example of a safety concern
is a safe passage to school programs. The discussions of guns are considered as an intrusion of the rights of
some clients. Therefore, this might lead to resistance from the clients. The reason is that asking about the
client’s access to a gun can be mistaken as questioning if they disobey the law.
Practicing social workers offer neutral policy suggestions so as to not damage the therapeutic
alliance. A social worker needs to take a particular position on the implemented policies on gun control or
a specific interpretation of the second amendment; this is important because it may help a client from
intentional or accidental gun violence. Therefore, a clinical social worker needs to engage in such
discussions to prevent injury and safety.
Finucane, A. (2018). Social Work Practice and Gun Safety in the United States: Are We Doing Enough?
Patricia Logan-Greene Mickey Sperlich.
Fyfe, J. J., Goldkamp, J. S., & White, M. D. (1997). Strategies for reducing homicide: The comprehensive
homicide initiative in Richmond, California.
Messner, S. F. (1982). Poverty, inequality, and the urban homicide rate: Some unexpected findings.
Criminology; an Interdisciplinary Journal, 20(1), 103–114.
Sipsma, H. L., Canavan, M. E., Rogan, E., Taylor, L. A., Talbert-Slagle, K. M., & Bradley, E. H. (2017).
Spending on social and public health services and its association with homicide in the USA: an
ecological study. BMJ Open, 7(10), e016379.