When criminals are shot: A survey of Washington, DC, jail detainees

MedGenMed. 2000 Jun 28;2(2):E1.


Introduction: Criminals are at high risk of being victims of violence, but little is known about their victimization.

Methods: A screen of Washington, DC, detainees found that 1 in 4 had been wounded in events that appear unrelated to their incarceration. Extensive interviews were conducted with 79 men entering the city jail from March through June 1997; the men reported 93 prior events in which they had been shot within the past 5 years.

Results: Eighty-three percent had personally witnessed someone being shot, and 46% had a family member killed with a gun. In the incidents in which they were shot, most were victims of robberies, assaults, and crossfires. The shootings were serious -- 35% were hit by more than 1 bullet, more than 90% went to the hospital, and 40% still had some disability from the wounds. These detainees report being shot by other criminals rather than by law-abiding citizens. Ninety percent would prefer to live in a world without easy access to firearms.

Conclusion: These young men live in a violent world of gunplay. The overwhelming majority would prefer that firearms were not so readily available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / psychology