FBI: 55.9% of known homicide suspects in 2019 were black

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This data comes from the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division

2019 is the most recent year that data has been released. The FBI reported information on 16,245 Murder/Non-negligent Homicide offenders for 2019, of which 11,493 are offenders whose race is known.

Core Findings:

In 2019, blacks made up 55.9% of known offenders.

For known offenders under the age of 18, this increases to 59.4%.

Blacks were 8.0 times more like to be a known offender compared to all other races combined.

Black victims, who tend to live in cities with low homicide clearance rates, appear to be far more likely to have an unknown offender than victims of other races

The first thing to understand about FBI offender data is there are only three racial categories:

The category “Black or African American” is the only single race category.

The category “Other” includes American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, East Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

The category “White” refers to all European descended peoples, as well as all Latinos (Central/South America), North Africans, Middle Easterners, Central Asians (India/Pakistan/Uzbekistan/Ect), Roma/Gypsies, and more. The category “white” is a catch-all category for anyone who is not black, East Asian, Pacific Islander, Hawaiian, or American Indian.

The FBI is trying to collect data on Latino offenders, but the data they collect is incomplete and has a lot of flaws. Some reporting agencies send data to the FBI that sub-classifies offenders as either Hispanic or Non-Hispanic.

If this seems odd to you, just take a look at the current FBI most wanted posters. Look at all the diverse people, from all over the world, classified as “White” on their wanted poster.

Of the known 11,493 offenders:

55.9% are Black

41.1% are “White”

3.0% are “Other”

Of the people that are sub-classified as Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, 25.1% of known offenders are listed as “Hispanic.” However, this could easily be inflated because regions with higher percentages of Latinos are more likely to label offenders as Hispanic or Non-Hispanic.

Of known offenders under the age of 18, 59.4% are black.

This 55.9% for blacks is even higher than any of the five previous years:

For 2018 this was 54.8%

For 2017 this was 54.2%

For 2016 this was 53.5%

For 2015 this was 53.3%

For 2014 this was 53.0%

According to the US Census Bureau, about 12.8% of the US population is black. However, this does not include people who classified themselves as mixed race, who are part black. The total black percentage of the US is probably between 14 and 14.5%. Let’s use a liberal estimate of 14.5%. This would mean that blacks were 8.0 times more likely to have committed murder than all other Americans combined in 2019.

If black offenders are more likely to be part of multiple offender murders than whites, this could inflate the black offender rate. The FBI tells us that 13.1% of individual victims had multiple offenders and another 2.0% were part of a multiple-victim/multiple offender scenario. Unfortunately, the FBI leaves out a key piece of information. There is no racial breakdown of cases with multiple offenders. This means the total percentage of all murders committed by either a single black offender or multiple black offenders is less than 55.9%. However, blacks are also more likely than whites to live in places with the highest rates of unsolved murders. If murders committed by blacks are more likely to go unsolved, this could mean that the total percentage of all murders committed by either a single black offender or multiple black offenders is more than 55.9%. To get a clearer picture, we will also analyze the victim data.

The so-called “no snitch” culture in the black community is another big impediment in solving murders.

The race of the offender is unknown in 29.25% of all cases in 2019. It is no secret that the cities with the highest rates of unsolved murders tend to have large black populations. Take Baltimore, for example, which had a dismal homicide clearance rate of only 31% in 2019. Baltimore is approximately 64% black. New Orleans reported a homicide clearance rate of 36.9% in 2017. This city is over 60% black. East St. Louis is 96% black, and typically has a homicide clearance rate of around 25%

Also, blacks who commit murder are more likely than other races to commit so-called “random” murders that are not deemed to have a large amount of pre-meditation. This is reflected in the disproportionately low number of blacks on death row. Blacks who commit murder are more likely to only be charged with 2nd-degree murder instead of 1st degree/capitol murder compared to other races. While blacks make up over half of the known perpetrators of murder, they are only 41.6% of death row inmates. Members of other races, who commit murder, are more likely to be convicted of 1st degree/capital murder and sentenced to death than black who commits murder.

Black murder victims, in cases where the race of the offender is known and there is a single offender and single victim, have a black offender 90.5% of the time. Of these black victims, 66.6% are from areas where offenders are being sub-classified as either Hispanic vs Non-Hispanic. A total of 4.9% of these black victims have a known offender sub-classified as “Hispanic.” It is important to note, that blacks can also be sub-classified as “Black (Hispanic)” as well.

Another .81% of black victims had an offender who is classified as “Other,” while 8.65% had an offender classified as “White.” We can assume from the 4.9% Hispanic/Non-Hispanic sub-classification that a very large percentage of black victims with a non-black offender had an offender who is Latino.

Of victims classified as “Other,” 17.0% had a black offender. Of victims classified as “White,” 17.6% had a black offender. Of victims sub-classified as “Hispanic,” 17.9% had a black offender. 

The FBI also reports that 61.8% of all victims are black. If we apply the rate at which known black offenders committed murder against blacks, which is 90.5%, that would mean 54.7% of all murders in the USA are black on black. Assuming that the rate of 90.5% is not actually higher when you account for all the unsolved murders in places like Baltimore, New Orleans, and St. Louis.

Apply a 17% black offender rate against “Other” and 17.6% against “White” and that would mean 57.4% of all murders are committed by a black offender or offenders. If the 90.5 black on black percentage is understated because of unsolved murders in majority-black areas, then 57.4% could still be understated.

When comparing the FBI’s victim data to offender data, black victims appear to be much less likely to have a known offender.

The FBI reports 6,294 murders in which there is a single victim and a single offender, and the race of each is known. Only 45.2% of these victims are black compared to 61.8% of all victims in general. Perhaps black victims are more likely to be part of a multiple killing and/or have multiple killers. That could account for part of this 16.6 point discrepancy. However, it seems extremely probable that black victims are less likely to have a known suspect.

If all murders were solved, or at least the homicide clearance rate was even across the USA, the percentage of murders committed by blacks would likely be higher than 55.9%.

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