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UB study: Most violent offenders are high school dropouts

The majority of prisoners in The Bahamas who committed violent crimes were high school dropouts, according to a new study conducted by the University of The Bahamas (UB).

“…The majority of convicted murderers are young men who did not complete high school, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, armed with guns or knives and find themselves in a high-stress situation such as interpersonal conflicts or criminal activity,” according to the report, “Our Prisoners: A Collection of Papers Arising from a 2016 Survey of Inmates at The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services Facility at Fox Hill”.

A paper inside the report, “Who Commits Murders”, was conducted with surveys from 367 male and female sentenced inmates.

The paper was authored by Dr. Nicolette Bethel, Ebonesse Bain, Ky’Shaun Miller, Rodericka Collie, and Shantique Durham.

Of those surveyed, 23.4 percent of them, about 86 inmates, admitted to being detained because of a serious crime against a person including murder, manslaughter, and attempted murder.

More than 90 percent of those who were in prison for violent crimes were male.

Of the cohort who committed violent crimes who responded to questions about their education level before being imprisoned, 75.6 percent of them said they had an incomplete high school education, compared to 58 percent of those who were in prison for non-violent crimes.

While just under three quarters of inmates sentenced for violent crimes surveyed said they were working before they were imprisoned, less than a third said they were happy with their financial situation.

Of those who committed violent crimes who spoke about their employment before going to prison, 71.1 percent said they had some form of work, compared to 71.2 percent of non-violent offenders who said they were working.

Of those violent offenders who spoke about how happy they were with their finances before going to prison, only 32.6 percent of them said they were very satisfied with their economic situation; even fewer, 26.6 percent, of those who committed non-violent crimes were happy with their finances

Of those sentenced for violent crimes who spoke about substance abuse, 61.2 percent used alcohol or drugs six hours prior to committing the crime they were imprisoned for, compared to 47.5 percent of non-violent offenders.

The most common neighborhoods of all 367 offenders interviewed were Carmichael, followed by Fox Hill, Solider Road, Nassau Village, and Pinewood.

The study cites the work of Dr. David Allen, who suggests that a lack of problem-solving and anger management skills trigger violent behavior; both attributes related to lack of education.

The report says this lack of soft skills coupled with the fact that 76.5 percent of violent offenders, as opposed to 38.1 percent of non-violent offenders, were carrying a weapon at the time of the crime could point to the reason many violent crimes appear to be as a result of impulse as opposed to premeditation.

Sixty-five inmates who committed violent crimes chose to give a reason.

The most common reason, at 21.5 percent, was that the violent crimes occurred while committing another crime.

The report, however, opposes the narrative that a large number of violent crimes are gang-related, stating that just six percent of violent crimes were committed on behalf of a gang.

About half the inmates surveyed said they grew up with both parents living together.

About half the inmates surveyed said they were “very satisfied” with their family before they were arrested.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Laurent started at The Nassau Guardian in May 2018 as a paginator. He transitioned to reporting in February 2019. Laurent has covered multiple crime stories. He is the author of “Yello”, which was published in February 2019.
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 3rd Year
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