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.