Los Angles is the nation’s entertainment capital and a true cultural mecca – but it’s also a hotbed of violent crime.
In addition to homicides resulting from interpersonal disputes and gang wars, the city is home to some of the 20th century’s most notorious serial killers, including the Night Stalker, the Golden State Killer, the Hillside Stranglers, and the Manson family. In 2018, career criminal Samuel Little admitted to murdering 93 people throughout the country between 1970 and 2005, making him the most prolific serial killer in the history of our country. Most of his murders occurred in Southern California and his victims were mainly prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless individuals, and other vulnerable people living on the margins of society who would not be missed.
Although these men are rare examples of particularly brutal and sociopathic killers, they demonstrate a common theme in Los Angeles – neighborhoods populated by low-income, Black and Latino communities are significantly more likely to experience violent crimes than their wealthier, primarily white counterparts. It may be easy to simply blame these individuals for their criminal behavior, but this prevents us from recognizing the underlying problems that contribute to and often directly cause such massive spikes in violent crime.
Why Is Violent Crime So Prevalent in Los Angeles?
For generations, minority neighborhoods have experienced high unemployment rates, low levels of educational attainment, and vastly underfunded public health and safety systems. Dense concentrations of people with strained social safety nets inevitably lead to rising tensions, and gangs of disenfranchised young men with limited options join gangs to become part of a group, claim their territory, and obtain the few resources available in their communities.
Long-term studies of gangs in the U.S. and Canada show that the most important risk factors for gang involvement are poverty, poor housing, inadequate supervision, family neglect or abuse, drug addiction, low education and employment potential, exposure to stress, violent victimization, prior delinquency, street socialization, the presence of gangs in their neighborhood, negative influences from peers or family members in gangs, cultural norms that encourage gang behavior, feeling unsafe in their neighborhood, and the desire to obtain group rewards such as identity, status, protection, and companionship.
How Did the Pandemic Increase Violent Crime?
Property crimes, home burglaries, and drug offenses dropped during the global COVID-19 pandemic, but shootings, aggravated assaults, and homicides rose substantially. The record job losses that occurred throughout this time made it increasingly difficult for families to survive by increasing food insecurity and decreasing access to health insurance.The people who were lucky enough to keep their jobs were the “essential workers” in grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, and other low-paying positions with a high risk of exposure. At the same time, widespread school lockdowns kept young people at home, restricting access to after-school programs and recreational facilities and leaving them to fend for themselves in the streets.
Along with leaving so many people idle, confused, and scared for their future, the pandemic also disproportionately impacted communities of color, further drawing attention to the race disparity in terms of access to quality health care that has existed for decades. Fewer testing sites were established in these communities, meaning it took longer to reach them, and they experienced higher demands and longer wait times. Extensive research shows that Black and Latino citizens experienced higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death that are disproportionate to their share of the population.
As the pandemic ravaged these communities, several high-profile murders by police officers gained attention in the news, causing the already simmering mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color to explode. The combination of concentrated trauma, unsettled disputes, and a general lack of faith in the police caused fewer people to report crimes when they occurred and reduced their willingness to provide testimony after witnessing these crimes.
Clearly, the cause of violent crime in Los Angeles is not simply poor decision-making or ill intent, but a complex set of interrelated factors that can only be tackled by viewing violence prevention as a public health concern. Actively funneling offenders into the for-profit prison system does nothing to rehabilitate them – it only deepens their resentment for law enforcement and helps them learn how to become better criminals. Instead, it is necessary to make investments into bringing resources to these communities, including health care, transportation, and recreation.
Which Los Angeles Neighborhoods Have the Highest Homicide Rates?
As of the end of May 2021, 141 people have been murdered in Los Angeles, an increase of 22% from the same period in 2020.The FBI Uniform Crime Report recently published data on violent crimes committed in Los Angeles neighborhoods so far during 2021, which includes robbery, assault, rape, and murder. This report was developed with information from local enforcement agencies and demographic data. According to the report, these are the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods in Los Angeles based on the number of violent crimes that occur, relative to the population and the average number of violent crimes in the entire city and state:
- Civic Center-Little Tokyo
- South Park
- Lincoln Heights
- Leimert Park
- West Adams
- South Los Angeles
- Hyde Park
- Southeast Los Angeles
Fight Homicide Charges With a Strong Defense
If you are facing homicide charges, the only way to guarantee you have the best chance of fighting against these charges is to retain the services of a criminal defense attorney with experience handling murder and manslaughter cases. At The Law Office of Stein & Markus, our team of criminal defense attorneys has decades of combined experience successfully representing clients throughout California who have been charged with the most serious offenses. We can work with you to protect your rights, inform you of your options, and fiercely advocate for you in court. With our help, you can prepare the strongest defense against charges and achieveanoptimal outcome in your case.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact Stein & Markus today. Confronting homicide charges may seem impossible, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our firm offers the highest quality comprehensive legal representation in the area, and we are dedicated to helping our clients effectively navigate the California legal system with expert counsel and formidable defense strategies.
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