Sara K. Thompson
Most criminological theory and research on the black homicide victimization is grounded in the American context, which raises important generalizability issues given the exceptional level of lethal violence that is used as the standard in this inquiry. This case study examines the social and spatial distribution of black homicide victimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between 1988 and 2003. Results suggest that, as in American cities, blacks in Toronto are over-represented as homicide victims and offenders, but there are important differences in the spatial distribution and ecological correlates of this violence. These findings highlight the importance of cross-national research when investigating the generalizability of findings from U.S.-based research on racially disaggregated homicide rates.
Jacob Stowell and Stephanie DiPietro
Despite a substantial increase in scholarly attention to immigration and crime at both individual and aggregate levels, important gaps in knowledge remain. Much work has focused on the criminal behavior of immigrants, and comparatively little on their victimization. Given political controversies about immigration law reform, the dearth of research on immigrants as crime victims is a critical omission. A comprehensive review of the literature shows no association between increases in the size of the foreign-born population and increased risks to public safety. Analyses of the comparative homicide risks for foreign-born people compared with the American population generally, and for immigrant groups of different national origins, for 1994–2004, a period of exponential growth in the foreign-born population, reveal a number of interesting patterns with respect to immigrant homicide victimization patterns, both between groups and over time.
Ramiro Martinez and Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco
Recent population changes, public anxieties, and political concerns about foreign-born newcomers have brought studies of immigration and crime to the forefront of criminological theory, policy, and research. A burgeoning body of research examines the effects of immigration on crime and patterned differences in criminality between immigrants and the native-born. A number of influential theoretical frameworks can be drawn upon to formulate predictions that immigrants are likely to commit a disproportionate amount of crime. The specialized literature provides data that supports the opposite conclusions—that immigration does not increase crime and that new immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born residents. More research examining the indirect effects of immigration is needed. However, immigrants rarely commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Politicians’ claims that immigration exacerbates crime problems lack empirically basis.
Despite the serious policy implications of research on the influence of race and ethnicity on crime, definitions and measurements of these constructs vary across the major sources of crime data. Important generalizations can nonetheless be drawn. Overall, Native Americans, blacks, and Latinos are more likely to be affected by crime than are whites and Asians. There is much scholarly debate on the causes of these differences, partly centering on methodological differences between data sources. Two central issues—definitions and measurements of race and ethnicity in major crime data sources and the lasting effect of these methodological variations on theoretical explanations aimed at understanding their connection—need to be much better understood.