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High homicide rate in Baton Rouge a major concern, P.1

The Advocate reports that homicide rates have increased in Baton Rouge in recent years, to the point where it now exceed homicide rates in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. Compared to the nation as a whole and to other cities of similar demographic makeup and size, Baton Rouge is not doing well.

Using the population estimate of 229,493, Census data shows that Baton Rouge had a per-capita homicide rate of 28 per 100,000 people in 2011, which is a 40 percent increase from 2001. Over the past 10 years, the homicide rate in Baton Rouge has shifted between 20 and 34 per 100,000. The rate was 34 in 100,000 back in 2009 and 20 in 100,000 in 2001.

The change is, in large part, being blamed on changes that took place after Hurricane Katrina, some suggesting that the storm made the population more violent. While increased poverty, lack of education and family breakdown have all contributed to the increased violence, Katrina is widely being viewed as the tipping point.

According to experts, the displacement of thousands of people, including criminals, created new relationships that adversely affect the crime rate in Baton Rouge. Criminals travelling the I-10 I-12 corridor now have a stopping point in Baton Rouge, where that wasn't there as much before. The criminal culture from New Orleans is a particularly notable influence.

Getting drugs and guns out of the community is the highest priority, according to those responsible for fixing the problem.

In our next post, we'll continue looking at this issue.

Source: The Advocate, "High homicide rate plagues Baton Rouge," Kimberly Vetter, February 28, 2012.

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