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After A Bloody Year, Violence Continues For Jacksonville In 2014

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News4Jax
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2013 marked an uptick for homicides in Jacksonville, and the new year began with a string of shootings.For the second year in a row, the number of homicides in the city has increased, jumping to 115 from 108. according to preliminary figures. The majority of the killings were by gunfire.

Dr. Michael Hallett, professor of criminology at the University of North Florida, sat down with Melissa Ross to discuss the homicide rate and take your calls.

Hallett said the 2013 statistics do show some good news; arrests are down significantly from 2008.

"The bad news is we have chronic violence in the same old places and what looks like an expanding footprint of blight and crime down in the Southside and in Arlington," he said.

The most striking thing about the statistics related to homicide in Jacksonville, Hallett said, are with regards to race.

According to preliminary numbers published in the Florida Times-Union, 69 of the victims of the 115 homicides in 2013 were African-American, compared to 42 white victims.

"The poverty based, geographically centralized location of the disproportionate amount of violence in Jacksonville persists," he said.

"It's young black males living in near complete isolation from real forms of social capital who become captive to illicit drug markets and subcultures of violence."

Hallett pointed to the Great Recession and the dire financial straits of the city as the key factors leading to recent cuts in after school activities and other programs, like Jacksonville Journey, designed to mitigate and prevent violence.

"We've got to stop trying to incarcerate our way out of poverty. It clearly doesn't work," he said.

"That's not to say that the single best response for structural inequality is not hard work and personal responsibility, it is. But where to children learn that? They don't learn it in prison. That's for sure."

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.